News / Middle East

Syrian Conflict Creates Food Insecurity for Millions

A Syrian refugee is pictured at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, July 31, 2012.
A Syrian refugee is pictured at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, July 31, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA – A new report finds the conflict in Syria is having a devastating impact on the country's food, crop and livestock production. A recent assessment by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program and Syria's Ministry of Agriculture notes up to three million people will need assistance during the coming year.  

Of the three million vulnerable people, the report says about half will need immediate food assistance over the next three to six months. This is particularly true of Syrians who are displaced by or caught up in the fighting.

In addition, the report says nearly one million people need crop and livestock assistance such as seeds, food for animals, fuel and repair of irrigation pumps. The report says the Syrian agricultural sector has lost $1.8 billion this year as a result of the ongoing conflict.

WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella says there is a great risk of a complete collapse of livelihoods of farming families in the next few months. She says urgent action is needed to help these people before winter.

"Now, what we are seeing is that many of these farming families and Bedouins and herders have had to start to cut the size of their meals," Casella said. "They are eating cheaper food, lower quality food. They are taking their children out of school and sending them to work. They are selling their livestock and their other assets, which means that even when peacetime comes, and we hope it comes soon, some of these people will not be able to quickly return to farming because they have had to sell their assets in order just to survive now."

The report says the situation is forcing Syrian farmers to abandon farming or leave crops unattended.  This is because of insecurity, the unavailability of labor, the lack of fuel and rising costs, as well as power cuts affecting the water supply. 

The report says wheat harvesting is delayed in the regions of Dara'a, Damascus, Homs and Hama.  It warns part of the crop will be lost if farmers do not receive timely assistance.

The assessment mission also finds deforestation is on the rise. It says Syrian farmers increasingly are turning to the forest for firewood as cooking gas and fuel become scarce. 

Casella says the farmers needing immediate assistance include female-headed households.

"There are about five to 10 percent of the farming families that were interviewed for this assessment were headed by women," she explained. "And, this is either because the husbands had to leave to seek work or have not been able to get back to be with their families or indeed because they are headed by widows. And, they really need special attention. They are even more vulnerable obviously if they are looking after children and having to protect their families and at the same time try to farm their farms and keep production going."

Last October, the World Food Program started an emergency operation to feed 850,000 people throughout Syria.  It has fallen short of this goal because of the conflict, reaching 540,000 people by the end of July.

Casella says the WFP, working with the Syrian Red Crescent, distributed food to 28,000 people Monday in Aleppo, where a battle between the government and rebels is raging.  As long as fighting persists, she says lack of access will continue to hamper humanitarian operations.

Casella says lack of money is also a big problem. To date, she says WFP has a shortfall of $62 million in its $103 million Syrian appeal for this year.

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

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