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Syrians in Need of Food Aid to Reach 3 Million on Conflict

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Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Syrians requiring food aid will number 1.5 million over the next three to six months, especially in areas that have seen most conflict and population displacement, the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization reported.

The people requiring nutritional support are expected to reach 3 million over the next 12 months, the Rome-based agency wrote in a report on its website today, citing an assessment by the United Nations and the Syrian government.

Violence that started in March last year has left at least 19,000 people dead, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, with fighting intensifying in the past few months as troops loyal to the government clashed with rebels. Syria’s agriculture sector has lost $1.8 billion this year as a result of the crisis and damages to crops, livestock and irrigation systems, according to the FAO.

“While the economic implications of these losses are quite grave, the humanitarian implications are far more pressing,” Muhannad Hadi, the World Food Programme’s Syria representative, was cited as saying in the report. “The effects of these major losses are first, and most viciously, felt by the poorest in the country.”

About 1 million people need crop and livestock assistance such as seeds, animal feed, fuel and repair of irrigation pumps, the FAO wrote.

Syria’s winter-grain crop is in jeopardy because of escalating conflict and drought, the FAO wrote in a report dated July 26. Grain import requirements may jump to 5 million metric tons in the year through June from 3.51 million tons in 2011-12, the agency estimates.

“Farmers have been forced to either abandon farming or leave standing crops unattended due to the unavailability of labor, the lack of fuel and the rise in fuel costs, and insecurity, as well as power cuts affecting water supply,” the FAO wrote in the report today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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