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Syria food crisis worsening, say UN agencies

Map of Syria. Image source lonelyplanet

Map of Syria. Image source lonelyplanet

Favourable rains have helped Syria’s 2015 wheat harvest but the country’s food insecurity is worsening overall because of war, two UN agencies said on Thursday.

Food production “remains way below its pre-crisis levels as the ongoing conflict continues to push more people into hunger and poverty,” the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a report.

Around 9.8 million people in Syria are estimated to be “food insecure,” with 6.8 million of these “severely food insecure,” it said.

“Severely food insecure” means a level of need that requires external food aid.

Since January this year alone, more than half a million people have been displaced, which badly disrupts farming activities and the food market.

“Urgent donor support is needed to ensure farmers can meet the upcoming cereal planting season, beginning in October,” said Dominique Burgeon, director of the FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division.

Wheat production in 2015, estimated at 2.445 million tonnes, is expected to be better than the very poor harvest of 2014 and slightly better than that of 2013.

But it is still 40 percent lower than pre-conflict production levels.

Syria faces a wheat deficit of about 800,000 tonnes out of its yearly needs of nearly five million tonnes.

Livestock production, once a contributor to exports, has seen falls of 30 percent in cattle, 40 percent in sheep and goats, and of 50 percent in poultry.

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