THE BLOG

ISIS Starves Children in Syria by Blocking Aid

02/18/2015 02:12 pm ET | Updated Apr 20, 2015

The war in Syria is a war against children. One of the weapons is a slow starvation. In the Ar-Raqqa governorate of Northern Syria, which is controlled by the terrorist group ISIS, children are not getting food needed to prevent malnutrition.

Ar-Raqqa has been largely cut off from humanitarian aid for the past year. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and other relief agencies cannot bring in supplies because of the terror threat.

WFP has been unable to feed children in Ar-Raqqa an enriched peanut paste called Plumpy'Doz. This is food used only when things take a turn for the worse in a country. It's when access to food has been limited by war, disaster or extreme poverty and children are at risk of malnutrition.

Food supplies have been devastated from Syria's civil war, and children have suffered from increasing hunger. Plumpy'Doz is one of the foods WFP has tried to distribute nationwide.

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Ten-year-old Omar from Derayya is recovering from heart surgery that he got in the Damascus Children's Hospital. The volunteers at the clinic say that Omar is progressing steadily and gaining weight with the help of Plumpy'doz. (WFP/Dina Elkassaby)

Lack of food for small children can cause lasting physical and mental damage, or even death. So WFP, along with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, started an initiative to bring Plumpy'Doz to Ar-Raqqa back in 2013. Soon afterwards, ISIS took control of the area. WFP spokesperson Joelle Eid, says, "WFP used to distributed Plumpy'Doz® in Ar-Raqqa in 2013, before access was disrupted. The plan was to deliver Plumpy'Doz® for 12,000 children on a monthly basis."

With that aid stopped, it's terrifying to think what kind of condition children may be in Ar-Raqqa. In the past two weeks, WFP has been able to reach parts of Aleppo, Tartous, Lattakia and Idleb with Plumpy'Doz. Around 110,000 Syrian children were expected to receive Plumpy'Doz in January.

This is part of WFP's massive relief operation which feeds 7 million Syrians throughout the Middle East.

WFP relies entirely on voluntary donations. Around US $ 215 million is needed urgently to keep the mission going.

This aid from WFP is saving millions of lives. For Ar-Raqqa and other areas under siege, WFP can only prepare to bring aid when the opportunity comes. Syrian war victims can only hope and pray for liberation from fear and hunger.

A hopeful development was when a UN inter-agency convoy recently brought food to 75,000 people in the Al Wa'er neighborhood of Homs City. This was their first delivery since last year. Around 743 cartons of milk were provided for infants.

But so many other areas like Ar-Raqqa are not getting the help they need. Until the war ends, famine will continue to threaten the Syrian people. An entire generation of children could be lost.