News / Middle East

Food Crisis Grips War-Torn Syria

Food Crisis Grips War-Torn Syriai
X
August 07, 2013 11:50 PM
Syria is facing a food crisis, as a poor harvest combines with critical shortages of staple goods caused by the civil war, according to aid agencies. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, satellite images appear to show how the relentless mortar and rocket fire is also taking a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure
Henry Ridgwell
Fields of golden wheat sway in the midsummer wind on the plains of Aleppo province. But amid this scene of agricultural productivity, blackened clearings — scars of missile strikes — litter the fields.
 
"This year people are harvesting the land early, but they can't work because of the missiles," says one farmer who didn’t want to give his name, explaining that many are bringing crops in early, fearing what’s left in the fields could be devastated at any moment. "They can't prepare their fields for harvest next year because of the fires caused by missiles."
 
Market analysts call this year’s harvest the worst in three decades; shepherds say livestock are dying of starvation.
 
According to risk analyst Anthony Skinner of Britain-based Maplecroft, the sheer scale of devastation is forcing Syria’s government to seek commodities overseas.
 
"[Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad’s ambition was for self-sufficiency in order to be able to sustain his side of the conflict in combating the armed opposition movement," he says. "But what we’ve seen, of course, has been massive displacement of civilians and farmers, and they’re unable to sow their crops and unable to acquire the fertilizers and seeds and to operate normally."
 
Western sanctions make it difficult for commodity traders to do business with Damascus, he says, and government officials may try to access money frozen in European accounts to pay for food.
 
Michael Mann, EU foreign affairs spokesman, says EU sanctions include humanitarian exemptions, which means the strategy could work.
 
"If there is a genuine humanitarian purpose and that can be proven, and it’s cleared by the member state authority, then it can go ahead," he says. "But at the end of the day, what the Syrian regime should be doing is stopping killing its people and, rather, feeding its people."
 
Amid the chaos of Aleppo — Syria's largest city and the center of an ongoing territorial stalemate between state forces and rebel fighters — market sellers have set up beside a checkpoint dividing rebel- and government-held areas.
 
The makeshift defenses, says one fruit trader, are basic and often inadequate.
 
"Even though there is sniper fire, people are working as normal," he says. "God is their provider and protector."

Amnesty satellite images

Left: Aerial view of Aleppo from December 2012; right: in February 2013, after ballistic missile strikes. (DigitalGlobe/Atrium/Analysis by AAAS)Left: Aerial view of Aleppo from December 2012; right: in February 2013, after ballistic missile strikes. (DigitalGlobe/Atrium/Analysis by AAAS)
x
Left: Aerial view of Aleppo from December 2012; right: in February 2013, after ballistic missile strikes. (DigitalGlobe/Atrium/Analysis by AAAS)
Left: Aerial view of Aleppo from December 2012; right: in February 2013, after ballistic missile strikes. (DigitalGlobe/Atrium/Analysis by AAAS)
Satellite images released by Amnesty International appear to show flattened buildings in civilian areas of the city, the result, says human rights agency says, of government missile attacks that leave residents scrambling to find daily staples.
 
"Very large sections of the city have been reduced to rubble," says Donatella Rovera, the group's Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who has just returned from Aleppo. "And of course so many civilians — children, 
Left: Great Mosque of Aleppo, Syria (a UNESCO world heritage site), on March 1, 2013; right: on May 26, 2013, (composite satellite photo made available by Amnesty International on August 7, 2013).Left: Great Mosque of Aleppo, Syria (a UNESCO world heritage site), on March 1, 2013; right: on May 26, 2013, (composite satellite photo made available by Amnesty International on August 7, 2013).
x
Left: Great Mosque of Aleppo, Syria (a UNESCO world heritage site), on March 1, 2013; right: on May 26, 2013, (composite satellite photo made available by Amnesty International on August 7, 2013).
Left: Great Mosque of Aleppo, Syria (a UNESCO world heritage site), on March 1, 2013; right: on May 26, 2013, (composite satellite photo made available by Amnesty International on August 7, 2013).
 omen, ordinary people — have been killed and maimed in the process. Those who are within the city still are finding it increasingly difficult to just meet their very basic need, even just to find bread on a daily basis."
 
The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) says the intense fighting is hobbling efforts to deliver aid to Syrians. The group reports that it delivered aid to only 2.4 million people in Syria in July, falling short of its target 3-million people.
 
A recently published joint report by WFP and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 4 million Syrians do not have enough to eat, a number that is expected to increase if fighting continues.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: David C from: Canada
August 08, 2013 10:14 AM
He who fights and causes war, Has no time for food, It is foolish to go to war or fight. It is pride and he who wants and will not work for a living that assumes they are God's gift to life and they assume that is the way they must live. They know not it is better to give, They are plain lazy and ignorant of life's true God.
Not until all are removed will there be peace.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs