FAO: Civil Unrest Pushes Syria To Famine

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has voiced serious concern over food availability in Syria, especially for vulnerable groups, as a result of the civil unrest in the country.

The U.N. agency cited figures from the Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics that show inflation rose by about 15 percent during June-December last year, driven mainly by sharp increases in food prices and fuel shortages that have had an impact on transportation costs.

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) estimates that about 1.4 million people have become food insecure since the unrest began, especially in hotspots such as Homs, Hama, Damascus, Dara'a and Idleb.

FAO and WFP are currently running an emergency operation providing food aid and vouchers to 100,000 people in Syria. Food, water and fuel are reported to be increasingly difficult to obtain in several areas and the situation is also affecting the mobility for herds and limited access to veterinary drugs and other supplies.

Some 300,000 small-scale 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 labor migration inside the country.

In addition, Syria's cereal production is estimated to have dropped by almost ten percent last year following late and erratic rains, and the outlook for this year's winter harvest, which starts in May, is uncertain given the possible disruption of farm activities and limited access to inputs as a result of insecurity, according to FAO.

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