Continued civil unrest in the Syrian Arab Republic since midMarch 2011 has raised serious concern over the state of food security, particularly for vulnerable groups. Following the unrest, a contraction is forecast in the 2011 real GDP and the downturn is expected to continue in 2012. Economic and trading sanctions together with the strong depreciation of the local currency (Syrian pound) are expected to negatively affect the country’s commercial import capacity, including food commodities. The imposition of an additional 30 percent tax by the Syrian Arab Republic on goods imported from Turkey is expected to put further pressure on domestic prices and hence reduce access to food particularly for poorer households. According to the Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics, inflation increased between June and December 2011 by about 15 percent, mainly driven by sharp increases in food prices and by fuel shortages that are impacting on transportation costs.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), since the start of the civil unrest, around 1.4 million people have become food insecure, mainly concentrated in “hotspot” areas such as Homs, Hama, Damascus, Daraa and Idleb. Tens of thousands of people have already fled to neighbouring countries. Access to food, water and fuel is reported to have become increasingly difficult in several areas. An estimated 300 000 small farmers and herders in northeastern provinces, who have already suffered four consecutive seasons of drought, are also affected by the loss of opportunities from seasonal labour migration to the south and east. In addition, the unrest is affecting pastoralists by restricting mobility of herds, with negative effects on access to water and pasture, and reducing access to veterinary drugs and other supplies. Overall, the economic downturn is also expected to impact the Government’s fiscal capacity to support consumer and producer subsidy schemes.