File Photo: Woman displaced with her family from Douma in rural Damascus to Adra, feeding her 18-month-old daughter lunch. (Photo courtesy of WFP)
A brutal war that triggered years of economic crisis and damaged vital infrastructure has put 2.9 million at risk of sliding into hunger, while another 12 million do not know where their next meal is coming from, the UN agency said.
"Hunger soars to a 12-year high in Syria," as 70 percent of the population might soon be "unable to put food on the table for their families," the statement said.
"Syria now has the sixth highest number of food insecure people in the world," the WFP added, with food prices increasing nearly 12-fold in three years.
Child and maternal malnutrition are also "increasing at a speed never seen before," in more than a decade of war.
If the international community does not step up to help Syrians, it risks facing "another wave of mass migration," said WFP executive director David Beasley during a visit to Syria this week.
"Is that what the international community wants?" he asked, urging donor countries to redouble efforts to "avert this looming catastrophe".
The UN estimates 90 percent of the 18 million people in Syria are living in poverty, with the economy hit by conflict, drought, cholera, and the Covid pandemic as well as the fallout from the financial crash in neighboring Lebanon.
The conflict in Syria started with the brutal repression of peaceful protests and escalated to pull in foreign powers and global jihadists.
About half a million people have been killed, and the conflict has forced around half of the country's pre-war population from their homes.