SARMADA, Syria — Plenty of food lines the shelves in Abd al-Razzak’s warehouse, but only for those who can afford the sky-high prices needed to cover the bribes it took to transport it there.
“There’s a powdered-milk factory in Latakia, but there are 13 security checkpoints to go through,” Razzak said, sitting in the darkened warehouse in this forlorn northwestern town, which has no electricity, no running water and trash pickup only when gas can be found for the trucks. “We have to pay a bribe at each checkpoint.”
The United Nations’ World Food Program warned this week that the escalating violence in Syria is causing food shortages throughout the country. Factories have been bombed. Roads and farm fields are pockmarked with deep craters left by missiles. Thieves have held up trucks carrying food, as demand has swelled in towns housing at least 1.2 million Syrians displaced from their homes by the fighting, according to official estimates cited by the WFP.