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UN warns 3 million Syrians need food and farm aid

Arab World Materials 2 August 2012 15:53
Over the next year nearly 3 million people in Syria will need supplies of food, livestock and crops as the country's farm sector is crippled by conflict, UN agencies said Thursday in Rome
UN warns 3 million Syrians need food and farm aid

Over the next year nearly 3 million people in Syria will need supplies of food, livestock and crops as the country's farm sector is crippled by conflict, UN agencies said Thursday in Rome dpa reproted

According to a survey by the United Nations and the Syrian government, 1.5 million people urgently need food aid over the next three to six months, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) said.

Due to the insecurity, the assessments noted that "large numbers" of rural Syrians who earn their livelihood by farming and raising livestock have "totally or partially" lost assets and resources related to their business.

An estimated 1 million Syrians need crop and livestock assistance, such as seeds, fuel, and food for animals.

The country's farmers have lost 1.8 billion dollars this year as a result of the crisis, with crops, animals and irrigation systems destroyed or damaged. A long drought has worsened the situation.

People have been forced to leave their farms or have been unable to take care of their crops because of the unrest and because they find it difficult to get labour, fuel and water.

Key crops such as wheat and barley have been especially affected, along with cherry and olive trees, and vegetable production.

"The effects of these major losses are first, and most viciously, felt by the poorest in the country," said WFP's Syria representative Muhannad Hadi.

The reports said that those under the greatest humanitarian and economic threat were female-headed households, migrant workers, small farmers, Bedouins and herders.

Yet Hadi said that during the mission's visit to Al-Hassakeh district in north-eastern Syria "even the richest family in a village reported having food stock for only one more month."

The conflict is hurting the rural population financially as well, because money transfers from migrant workers back to their communities have been dwindling.

"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," said Abdulla Bin Yehia, FAO's Syria representative.

The FAO said it has been supporting only 82,000 people in farming households and that it needed 38 million dollars to reach 900,000 people to aid the autumn planting season.

UN agencies plan to expand their food programme to reach 850,000 people this month.

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