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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora