Nearly 8 million Syrians are food insecure and vulnerable to COVID-19, the World Food Programme (WFP) said Tuesday.

Moreover, close to a million people have been internally displaced in the war-ravaged country since December 2019, said the agency’s spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs in video briefing from Geneva.

“They now live in over-crowded camps where an outbreak of COVID-19 could have devastating impact consequences.”

She said that cases of the novel coronavirus had been confirmed in Syria and containment measures had been introduced.

“WFP is doing all it can to ensure that beneficiaries receive their entitlements in as safe a way as possible,” said Byrs.

The situation in northwestern Syria around Idlib remains tense but relatively calm, said WFP.

“Across northwest Syria WFP and partners’ staff provided life-saving food assistance to 1.7 million people. And it’s vital to WFP to continue to deliver this food assistance via cross border operation from Turkey,” said Byrs.

The UN agency and its partners are implementing COVID-19 mitigation measures such as encouraging handwashing and raising awareness for social distancing at food distribution points.

Idlib has long been under siege by forces from Syria’s Assad regime and its allies.

Turkey has worked over years to protect the local civilian population against regime violations as well as rid the wider region of terrorist elements.

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