Geneva - The UN said that the humanitarian crisis in
Syria has reached "catastrophic" proportions, with some 2.5 million
people in the war-ravaged country lacking enough food.
Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Co-ordination
of Humanitarian Affairs, said that continued fighting could push up the numbers
of those affected by the fighting.
He said some 4 million are in need of urgent assistance
now while over 2 million people are displaced inside Syria.
Those numbers will go up significantly if the fighting
continues, he said.
Despite the world body enlisting the help of more than 70
local groups in Syria and delivering more aid to opposition-controlled areas,
Laerke said that "the catastrophic humanitarian crisis continues to
The UN World Food Programme, meanwhile, said that 2.5
million people inside Syria lack enough food.
A spokesperson for that agency, Elisabeth Byrs, said they
plan to feed 1.75 million this month, then up to 2 million in March and reach
2.5 million in April.
Speaking to reporters from Damascus, Elizabeth Hoff, the
UN World Health Organisation's representative for Syria, told of seeing out her
window "black smoke from every corner of the city" and difficulties
in reaching rural areas of the capital.
"When we talk about 4 million people who are
critically in need, this number is growing every day," she said.
"Areas around rural Damascus cannot be reached which we reached a week
Hoff said the country's health minister told her the
national hospital in the central province of Homs was destroyed over the last
few days, and some 78% of the country's ambulances are damaged.
More than half of Syria's ambulances do not work, she
added, and many others are out of circulation because they are being used by
Syria's military and armed opposition.
The UN says that over 60 000 people have died in Syria
since the conflict began in March 2011.
The armed opposition to Syria's President Bashar Assad
remains outgunned by government forces despite significant rebel advances on