Food security in Syria has deteriorated significantly over the past year and is likely to get even worse if the conflict continues, according to a new report released by WFP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Food production has slowed and prices are on the rise, making it harder and harder for Syrian families to meet their food needs, the two agencies said. As many as 4 million people across the country are now unable to buy or produce enough food.
“With so many adverse factors now stacked against the crop and livestock sectors, and assuming that the present crisis remains unresolved, domestic production over the next twelve months will be severely compromised,” the report added.
The report followed an assessment mission to Syria between May and June. It found that massive population displacement, disruption of agricultural production, unemployment, economic sanctions, currency depreciation and high food and fuel prices have all damaged the ability of families in Syria to meet their food needs.
In many parts of the country, the price of wheat flour more than doubled between 2011 and 2013, prompting WFP to begin distributing wheat flour with its monthly food ration.
Damage to farms and machinery together with the threat of violence and the soaring costs of raw materials have hampered food production across the country. Among the millions of people displaced by the conflict in Syria, many are farmers whose crops are likely to go unharvested, the report warns.
Wheat flour mills and bakeries have either closed or are operating far below their capacity. Sanctions have exacerbated the situation, leading to shortages of raw materials, fuel and spare parts.
“There is a limited window of opportunity to ensure crisis-affected families do not lose vital sources of food and income,” WFP and FAO said.
Working with partner organisations in Syria, WFP reached 2.5 million people with food assistance in June, is planning to feed 3 million people in July and is ramping up logistics and operational capacity to feed 4 million people by October. In addition, WFP is providing food assistance to nearly one million refugees sheltering in neighbouring countries.
WFP is seeking to raise more than US $27 million every week to meet the food needs of people affected by the conflict both inside Syria and in neighbouring countries.
Under the revised Syrian Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP), WFP’s requirements for its operations inside Syria alone until the end of 2013 totalled $490 million.