The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a special alert on the food security situation in Syria this past week, voicing serious concern over the state of food security, especially for vulnerable groups, because of continued civil unrest since March 2011. According to the Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics, inflation increased between June and December 2011 by about 15 percent, mainly driven by sharp increases in food prices and fuel shortages that are impacting on transportation costs.
The United Nations World Food Programme estimated in 2010 that about 1.4 million food insecure were living in areas which have now become conflict hotspots such as Homs, Hama, rural Damascus, Daraa and Idleb and the concern is that they now have become even more vulnerable.
Tens of thousands of people have fled to neighbouring countries, reports the special alert, posted on FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System on food and agriculture website.
FAO is part of emergency operations providing food aid and vouchers to 100 000 people in the country.
Faced with drought and labor migration
Food, water and fuel are reportedly increasingly difficult to obtain in several areas and the situation is also affecting pastoralists, with reduced mobility for their herds and limited access to veterinary drugs and other supplies.
Some 300 000 small farmers and herders in north-eastern provinces, which have already suffered four consecutive seasons of drought, are also affected by loss of opportunities from seasonal labour migration inside the country.
Syria’s cereal production is estimated to have dropped by almost 10 percent last year following late and erratic rains, and the outlook for the 2012 winter harvest starting in May is uncertain given possible disruption of farm activities and limited access to inputs as a result of civil insecurity.
Image of Syrian food plate from Shutterstock