DAMASCUS, Syria, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The United Nations' World Food Program pulled non-essential staff out of Syria, adding conflict encroaching on Damascus was presenting severe problems.
The United Nations recently reduced the number of non-essential staff in Syria as civil war descends on Damascus. WFP said most roads to and from Damascus have become dangerous, making it difficult to reach warehouses.
"U.N. agencies, including WFP, have also temporarily suspended all field missions outside Damascus, which will negatively impact our ability to monitor food distributions by our partners and limit the movement of staff to conduct needs and market assessment missions," the world body said.
WFP said most basic food items are available in Syria but the food security situation is deteriorating rapidly. It said about 20 international and 100 national WFP staff members were staying to help with emergency efforts to feed 1.5 million vulnerable Syrians.
Some Western governments have formally recognized an opposition council formed last month in Qatar. NATO, meanwhile, said it would deploy Patriot missiles along the Turkish border with Syria to help protect its ally from the violence.