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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid