WFP Syria Situation Report #3, March 2021


In Numbers:

12.4 million people food insecure

1.3 million severely food insecure

6.7 million people internally displaced


  • WFP dispatched humanitarian assistance sufficient for an estimated 4.9 million people across all activities in Syria in March.

  • The food security situation in Syria continues to deteriorate rapidly, with the latest WFP data showing a 72 percent year-on-year increase in rates of poor and borderline food consumption.

  • Hostilities in north-western Syria spiked in March: A hospital was hit in shelling in western Aleppo governorate on 21 March, and in apparent retaliation, a rocket attack targeted Aleppo city – the first such attack in one year.

  • The economic situation continued to deteriorate in March: The depreciation of the Syrian pound (SYP) accelerated, dipping to a record low of SYP 4,700/USD 1.

  • Severe fuel shortages nationwide continued to impact WFP operations, including food distributions, monitoring, and data collection.

Situation Update

Economic situation

  • The economic situation in Syria continued to deteriorate in March. The depreciation of the Syrian pound (SYP) spiraled over the first two weeks of March, dipping to a record low of SYP 4,700/USD 1 on 17 March before stabilizing around SYP 3,700/USD 1 by the end of the month. On 22 March, the Central Bank of Syria adjusted the exchange rate for UN agencies as well as some official imports to SYP 2,500/USD 1. The standard official exchange rate remained at SYP 1,250/USD 1.

  • WFP operations continued to be affected by the fuel shortages in March. The WFP field office in Homs (covering Homs and Hama governorate) limited all field missions to critical mission only. Further, in several areas, transportation prices continued to increase significantly, with some WFP cooperating partners reporting delays to WFP operations that require fuel, including food distributions, monitoring, and data collection.

Food Security Situation

  • The food security situation in Syria is at critical levels and continues to deteriorate, according to the latest WFP mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) data covering the month of March. The national average rate of inadequate food consumption (poor and borderline combined) increased by 11 percent monthon-month (from February to March 2021) and 72 percent year-on-year (from March 2020 to March 2021). Nearly one out of five interviewed households in Syria (18 percent) reported poor food consumption in March 2021, more than double the level recorded in March 2020.

  • Nine out of ten interviewed households reported applying at least one food-based coping mechanism to meet their food consumption needs, an increase of 11 percent since March 2020, with a higher proportion among female-headed households (95 percent) compared to male-headed households (89 percent). As food prices continued to skyrocket across Syria, almost 84 percent of interviewed households reported having already depleted their savings.

COVID-19 Pandemic

  • As of the end of March, approximately 50,406 COVID-19 cases and 2,284 deaths had been confirmed across all areas of Syria as of 01 April. This includes 18,909 cases and 1,265 deaths in government-controlled areas, 21,318 cases and 637 deaths in north-western Syria, and 10,179 cases and 382 deaths in north-eastern Syria.

North-Western Syria

  • A spike in hostilities was reported in north-western Syria in late March, with hostilities between Government forces and their allies and non-state armed groups reported from multiple areas of Idlib and Aleppo governorate.

  • On 21 March, a hospital was hit by shelling in western Aleppo governorate, and in apparent retaliation, a rocket attack targeted Aleppo city, killing two people – the first such attack in one year.

  • In Idlib governorate, airstrikes near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing point damaged two warehouses belonging to two WFP cooperating partners and destroyed four trucks belonging to a WFP-contracted transporter. No staff were harmed, and no WFP commodities were lost in the incidents.

North-eastern Syria

  • On 28 March, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) started a security clearance campaign in Al-Hol camp (Al-Hasakeh governorate) in response to recent unrest in the camp. The campaign resulted in the arrest of 125 suspected elements of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) non-state armed group, according to SDF. The campaign spurred significant unrest in the camp: Several facilities belonging to humanitarian organizations operating in the camp were impacted by looting and fires by camp residents.

  • On recommendation from the United Nations Department for Safety and Security (UNDSS), all UN field missions to Al-Hol were suspended. As such, All WFP missions to the camp were temporarily suspended.

  • WFP food distributions and malnutrition treatment activities were suspended as the operation began.
    However, Al-Hol camp management allowed operations to resume on 30 March, and WFP distributions resumed in early April.