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5 February 2010

Mohammed Darwish abandoned his farm after crops failed and was forced to take a job as a shepherd.(..)It is a scene that has been replicated for centuries in the semi-arid hills and valleys of Syria, where farmers harvest crops, tend fruit trees, and herd sheep and goats. But recently, the conversation, punctuated by glances and gestures towards the heavens, has taken on additional urgency as the nation grapples with a three-year drought that experts describe as the worst in four decades.


15 December 2009

Four bottles of sunflower oil, five kilos of lentils and 13 cans of tuna is what Walid Khalil Ibrahim, an Iraqi refugee living in Damascus, is taking home from the government-run supermarket in Jaramana. And a batch of white eggs.(..)When it is time to pay the bill, Ibrahim, who is receiving food aid from the WFP, reaches for his mobile phone, rather than his wallet.


24 November 2009

With a few weeks left before the end of this year’s planting season, UN officials have raised concerns over the lack of funds to help drought-hit farmers and herders in northeastern Syria. (..) The World Food Programme (WFP) shares similar concerns. “WFP has received $2.2 million only out of $22 million needed. This amount is barely sufficient to start the first distribution in December which should cover at least two months of entitlements [December and January],” Silvana Giuffrida, WFP deputy country director, told IRIN.


3 September 2009

On a small triangle of dirt, wedged between two roads half-an-hour’s drive east from central Damascus, is a squalid encampment, home to some 50 people. (..) Syria has drawn on international aid to help mitigate the effects of the drought. The World Food Programme has been handing out emergency packages to try to prevent burgeoning malnutrition rates and stem the flow of rural to urban migration. A total of 200,000 people, mainly farming families, are receiving its assistance.


21 July 2009

Malnutrition rates in Syria’s northeast have reached alarming heights, international aid agencies have warned. The dry northeast region of Syria is plagued with malnutrition levels that are one and a half times higher than in the rest of the country, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). (..) According to a 2008 World Food Program report, the rising price of food is having a “catastrophic effect” on Syria’s economy, and is exasperating the already insufficient food resources left after the drought.