Charities feed Aleppo families during Ramadan

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With the conflict in Syria now into its third year, many Syrian families are struggling to make ends meet.

And the impact is particularly evident in the western province of Aleppo, which has seen some of the heaviest fighting between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebel fighters.

The Syrian pound has crashed to one sixth of its value two years ago. And although Syria has been self-sufficient in food, fuel shortages have led to a shortage of food in the cities.

In response, charity organizations have been trying to help feed some of the poorest in the country during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

One charity has been preparing free meals for people in the city of Azaz to eat when they break their fast.

“It is on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan, for families stricken and displaced to Azaz city, as well as for orphans and poor people in Azaz city,” said Abu Ghayad, the kitchen supervisor.

Volunteers deliver containers of cooked food to families in their homes. They say that although the situation is desperate, and their resources are limited, they're trying to feed as many families as possible.

“There are many families who need help but depending on the resources, our capabilities and the help of some food organizations like the Red Crescent and orphanages we try to reach the poorest families and most in need so that we can deliver what they need. But of course there is a real lack in food and we are hoping to get help and support from aid organizations in the Arab world, and Muslim countries in general,” said Abu Omar, a member of the al-Shabab al-Muslim al-Muthaqaf Association.

Where people come to collect the food themselves, the queues are long.

Several organizations are taking part in the relief efforts, packing food in cardboard containers, then placing them in plastic bags, ready to be given to those in need.

And so far the food donations have been a success. Abu Khaled, a member of the Ahl al-Athar charity organization, says they've been making good progress, delivering thousands of containers of food every day.

“As part of the 'Feed Someone Fasting' campaign during the holy month of Ramadan, we distributed more than 1,500 containers of food in the liberated areas daily on the first day. On the second day that figure rose to 10,000 food containers. We conducted an inventory and counted the poor and stricken families in all of the liberated areas in the city of Aleppo.”

“Today we are on the second, third, day of the holy month of Ramadan and we are distributing in the neighborhood of Al Ansary,” said Abu Khaled.

As the numbers of those needing aid increases, the charities have their work cut out. But despite the challenging situation, they're committed to providing Iftar meals.

Residents in western Aleppo say food prices have jumped to more than ten times their original level and basics such as bread and flour have become harder to find. Only products such as bulgur wheat and rice are still regularly available.

The cost of a jar of yogurt, a staple of the Syrian diet, is now 1,300 Syrian pounds ($7), up from 100 pounds (50 cents).

Many Syrians have lost their jobs in the country's bloody war and find it hard to buy food.

More than 100,000 people have died in Syria's two-year conflict. Sectarian violence is also increasing, pitting an opposition led mostly by the Sunni Muslim majority against the country's minorities, particularly Assad's Alawite sect.

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