NEW DELHI: The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has said that it is “extremely concerned” after images emerged online showing the UN organisation’s food parcels being handed out in Syria with the Islamic State logo branded on.

“WFP condemns this manipulation of desperately needed food aid inside Syria,” said Muhannad Hadi, WFP Emergency Regional Coordinator, in a statement, adding that the UN agency was working toward confirming the authenticity of the images.

The images appear to be taken in Deir Hafr village, about 50 km from Aleppo. WFP said it last reached Dayr Hafir in August, sending a convoy carrying 1700 boxes of rations with supplies such as rice and wheat flour to meet the needs of 8500 people for a month.

In Dayr Hafir, as elsewhere throughout Syria, WFP depends on the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to distribute food for more than four million people a month in the war-torn country. However, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s warehouse in Dayr Hafir was seized by the Islamic State in September, and there has been no contact with workers there since then, said WFP.

“We put the pieces together and realized that this probably was whatever was left in the warehouses,” said Abeer Etefa, a spokesperson for the food agency in Cairo (as quoted by the New York Times). “In this particular area, no one has access; we have not operated there since September.”

The images provide an insight into the complications regarding the conflict in Syria, where Islamic State militants and a civil war have left millions of people displaced. Syrians account for nearly one in four of the 13 million refugees worldwide being assisted by the UN refugee agency UNHCR -- the highest figure since 1996.

At least 200,000 people have died and half the Syrian population has been displaced since March 2011 when the conflict began.

To provide context, UNHCR along with the Hamdi Foundation produced a video to provide on the scale of the disaster. The video, titled "What if Manhattan..." asks: How would the world respond if the refugee crisis affecting the children of Syria were happening to the people of Manhattan.

As the video points out, 1.5 million of those affected are children. Children displaced by the war in Syria are the focus of another advocacy video -- produced by Save The Children -- that says, "Just because it isn't happening here, doesn't mean it isn't happening."

The video was released to mark the three-year anniversary of the conflict, in which, to date, 10,000 children have lost their lives and 2.3 million people have become refugees.

In a report titled “A Devastating Toll: The Impact of Three Years of War on the Health of Syria’s Children” by Save The Children, the broken health system in Syria and its consequences -- children dying not just from violence but also from related diseases -- were highlighted.

The report highlights the impact of the Syrian civil war on the country’s children. At least 1.2 million children have fled the conflict, and become refugees in neighbouring countries, while another 4.3 million children in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance. Children have witnessed and experienced extreme violence, and more than 10,000 young lives have been lost as a direct result. The report draws attention to risk to life not just directly posed by violence, but also treatable and preventable diseases. Two hundred thousand Syrians have died of treatable chronic diseases such as cancer, asthma and diabetes – double the number killed by violence, states the report.

The illnesses affecting children in the troubled state include measles, diarrhea, and respiratory illnesses, all among the most deadly diseases worldwide for children aged under five. As one measure of how far Syria's health systems have fallen, the report states, in 2010, a total of 26 measles cases were reported in the whole of Syria for the entire year. In the first week of 2014, just in children aged under five, 84 cases were recorded in northern Syria alone.

Sixty percent of hospitals and 38 percent of primary health facilities throughout Syria are damaged or destroyed, making access to healthcare a key area of concern. Nearly half of Syria’s doctors have fled the country. Of the country's ambulances, 93 per cent have been damaged, stolen or destroyed, while many health workers and medical staff have been killed, imprisoned, or have fled the country altogether. The production of drugs has fallen by 70 percent. “This is more than a crisis. It is the threatened collapse of an entire health system, which endangers the lives and well-being of millions of children,” the report states.

The report states that vaccine programmes in Syria have collapsed, with a peacetime coverage rate of 91% falling to 68% just a year after the conflict began; “this rate is likely to be far lower today,” it states. Deadly diseases like measles and meningitis are on the rise. Even polio, which was eradicated across Syria in 1995, is now being carried by up to 80,000 children across the country.

Today, aid is more needed than ever, and if the photos prove to be authentic, they reflect a worrying development in the efficiency of aid programmes operating in the battered country.