Syria: 1.5 Million People Need Urgent Food Assistance

Published on 01 August 2012

Most of the families visited by the assessment reported their lives were becoming more difficult by the day. WFP/Deir Ezzor

Poor families in parts of Syria affected by the recent conflict need both immediate food aid and help with ensuring food production in coming months. Seeds, food for animals and repairs to irrigation systems are all necessary if livelihoods are to be saved.

DAMASCUS/ROME – Around 1.5 million people in Syria need food assistance over the next 3 to 6 months as a result of the ongoing crisis in the country, according to a recent assessment by the United Nations and the Syrian government. Read report | Read news release

The 1.5 million people who risk hunger imminently are mostly in areas of Syria that have seen the greatest conflict and population displacement. They are among 3 million people who need food, crop and livestock assistance in the wake of losses to the agriculture sector estimated at US$1.8 billion. 

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“While the economic implications of these losses are quite grave, the humanitarian implications are far more pressing,” said WFP Representative and Country Director in Syria Muhannad Hadi, commenting on the assessment by WFP, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Syria’s Ministry of Agriculture. 

Lives more difficult

“The effects of these major losses are first, and most viciously, felt by the poorest in the country. Most of the vulnerable families the mission visited reported less income and more expenditure – their lives becoming more difficult by the day,” he said.

Hadi said that during the mission visit to the area around the northeastern city of Al Hassakeh “even the richest family in a village reported having food stock for only one more month.”

Meanwhile, close to a million people need crop and livestock assistance such as seeds, food for animals, fuel and repair of irrigation pumps. Large numbers of rural people with farms or livestock-based livelihoods in the central, coastal, eastern, northeast and southern governorates were found to have suffered severe losses and damages.

Harvesting delayed

Farmers have been forced to either abandon farming or leave standing crops unattended due to the unavailability of labour, the lack of fuel and the rise in fuel costs, insecurity, as well as power cuts affecting water supply.  Harvesting of wheat has been delayed in the Governorates of Daar’a, Rural Damascus, Homs and Hama.

“The most vulnerable families in Syria depend entirely or partly on agriculture and farm animals for food and income. They need emergency support, like seeds, repairs to irrigation systems, animal feed and healthcare,” said Abdulla BinYehia, FAO Representative in Syria.

“If timely assistance is not provided, the livelihood system of these vulnerable people could simply collapse in a few months’ time. Winter is fast approaching and urgent action is needed before then.”