An outbreak of fires in productive wheat and barley fields has affected 11 governorates, across 250 districts since mid-May, many of which are presumed to be intentionally lit. ISIL has claimed responsibility for some of the arson attacks and most fires have burned in areas with medium to high severity of needs among returnees. Some authorities and farmers believe the fires are an intentional tactic targeting returnees or aiming to deter IDPs from returning. There have been reports that the fires have dissuaded some IDPs from returning to their homes. There are also concerns that the arson attacks could be political in nature, noting the patterns in location of the fires along contested areas. In 2019, high rainfall has yielded good crop growth meaning there is a greater than average presence of combustible fuel in the fields.
Humanitarian partners are monitoring the impacts on returnees and planned returns, and assessing any negative impacts on agriculture, food security livelihoods and water supply. The Food and Agriculture Organization has noted that many farmers were coming to the end of their harvests and therefore the impact on staple prices has yet to be determined.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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