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A new crisis is falling upon the war-torn city of Damascus as reports say that food is running dangerously short, just as a long, cold winter is about hit the region. Most of the city's merchants ran out of bread yesterday, because they say the government has not made deliveries of flour, which they provide at a highly subsidized rate. According to the Arab newspaper the The National, even in the black markets, where almost any item can be had—for an increasingly higher price—there was simply no bread for sale.

In Aleppo, people are waiting in lines thousands of people deep for the the chance to buy the hard to find staple. Even in the best of times, average Syrians relied on the government to keep costs and supply reasonable, but with the country torn apart by war, it's not clear if they can provide even the most basic services anymore.

Syria has seen horrific levels violence in the 21 months since the war began, but it is also facing one of the worst humanitarian crises the region has ever seen. The United Nations says this week that more than 500,000 people are "registered" as refugees, meaning they have safely crossed the border into a neighboring country and were able to ask for help. And the number grows by more than 3,000 a day. Yet, that doesn't begin to account for the hundreds of thousands more who didn't make it to a camp—estimates say it could be more than 100,000 in Jordan alone—or those who never made it out of Syria at all.

Countless Syrians have lost their homes or villages, or have been forced to flee the violence, and many more had no where to go, but are instead hiding out in cities without reliable power, heat, or food. Even if the war were to end tomorrow—and it certainly won't—the devastation that has been left behind will continue to take many more lives through starvation and illness.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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