(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Syria unrest a risk for food security

Red Crescent volunteers unload food aid for Iraqi refugees at a centre in Damascus.
Julien Lennert/IRIN

Continuing unrest in Syria will not only affect economic growth but could disrupt food distribution channels leading to severe localized shortages in main markets, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).



In 2010, according to FAO, prices rose by 16.3 percent with vegetables costing almost 80 percent more. This year, forecasts project below average cereal output. Syria hosts one of the largest urban refugee populations in the world, including nearly one million Iraqis who have become more vulnerable because of rising food and fuel prices.



In February Syria began to make cash payments to 420,000 vulnerable families and reduce some taxes in a bid to stem food insecurity and rising poverty, which are continuing.



Violence has gripped Syria for the last few months as protests continue against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. On 20 May, at least 44 people were reportedly killed nationwide, but the government put the figure at 17 and blamed gangs. Since March, say human rights activists, at least 850 have been killed.



eo/cb

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