Drought complicates food crisis in Syria: WFP

Drought complicates food crisis in Syria: WFP
Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:51:31

Syria’s foreign-hatched war has taken a new turn as the beleaguered Middle East country now faces a deepening drought and food crisis in the midst of an expanding conflict, a UN relief agency says.

The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) warned that the drought may cut food production thus adding to the country’s woes, Herald Tribune reported on Sunday.

With over nine million Syrian civilians already refugees or internally displaced since the conflict started three years ago, WFP cautioned that “Low production scenarios combined with the ongoing conflict, will further strain Syria’s already fragile food security situation.

The main implications are an increased dependence on imports at a time when Syria’s import capacity is severely diminished by the collapse of real economic growth.”

Economists state that growth has been in a free fall with an almost 19 percent annual drop.

In a troubling new report on the drought and food security, the WFP states, “During the decade preceding the conflict, drought had been the main event causing significant losses to the national wheat and barley production; since 2012, the civil war has had a market impact on the Syrian cereal production capacity.”

Even optimistic figures reveal that this year’s projected wheat production would be about two million tons, a fall of 17 percent from last year.

WFP’s coordinator for Syria, Muhannad Hadi said, “It has taken a massive effort from WFP and partners to reach 4 million people in March, but we fear now that a possible drought, if rainfall doesn’t pick up, could put the lives of millions more at risk.”

“Syria suffered from five years of drought right before the conflict broke out and vulnerable communities in affected areas hardly had time to recover before they were hit by the conflict,” he added.

Tragically, some of the worst affected conflict areas such as Aleppo and Hama, account for about half of the wheat production. According to relief agencies, more than six million Syrians may need emergency food aid, up from the current number of just over four million people.

The Syrian conflict has seen a deliberate targeting of the country’s ancient monuments and minorities by some extremist groups. Despite being out of the headlines, the conflict continues with at least 150,000 people killed in the past three years.

The Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- are said to be supporting the militants in a bid to cause instability in Syria.


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