People queue for bread in Damascus, Syria, October 7, 2020
UPDATE, APRIL 30:
Amid drought, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the 11-year Syrian conflict, food prices in Syria have risen by another 24% in a month.
The average price set a record in March for the seventh consecutive month. The cost of Syria’s “Minimum Expenditure Basket” of 28 commodities, 20 of them food, has surged by 44.2% since September 2021.
The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Joyce Msuya, told the Security Council on Tuesday of poor harvests, compounded by shortages of water. In some parts of northeast Syria, harvest losses are more than 75%.
The loss of crops and of agricultural livelihoods will likely worsen already high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition. Women and girls are disproportionately affected due to their prominent role in the agriculture sector.
Msuya added that “the future looks bleak” for Syrians, in part because “the resources available for our emergency response are dwindling”.
She summarized, “We simply do not have the money needed. For far too many people, we are not able to provide the bare minimum in assistance. It is clear we cannot continue business as usual.”
ORIGINAL ENTRY, DEC 20: Amid shortages of food across Syria, the country’s wheat production is down 62% in a year and almost 75% from the pre-conflict level.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Areas estimates a harvest of about 1.05 million tons this year, compared to 2.8 million in 2020 and 4.1 million when the Syrian uprising began in March 2011. The output is the lowest in 50 years.
The World Food Programme reconfirmed that more than 12.4 million people — almost 2/3rds of Syria’s remaining population — are food insecure, up from 7 million in 2019. The cost of the average food basket is about 174,000 Syrian pounds ($54), in a country where the monthly minimum wage is only 71,515 pounds ($22).
Residents in Assad regime areas have endured a reduction in subsidized bread rations with poorer quality and long queues for purchases. The situation in the Kurdish-controlled northeast is compounded by the cutoff of water for irrigation, and in the opposition-held northwest by the falling Turkish lira, the currency for many transactions.
Production has been further affected by drought this year, particularly in the northeast where at least 50% of the harvest in Hasakah Province at risk. Only 17% of Syrian land is irrigated, and a fuel crisis is limiting the capacity to draw from wells.
The price of bread rose 247% in regime-held areas in 2020 and continues to increase. The regime’s tenders for wheat imports have not been filled, as Assad officials push disinformation over US assistance to the Kurdish northeast.
The World Food Programme assists more than 5 million people across Syria each month. However, the agency is having to reduce the monthly ration, as it is only 31% funded and urgently needs alomst $480 million for the next six months.