BM Gıda ve Tarım Örgütü ve Dünya Gıda Programı'nın Suriye Arap Cumhuriyeti Ürün ve Gıda Güvenliği Değerlendirme Raporu Tanıtımı


Opening Remarks by
Kamal Malhotra
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Turkey

Excellencies, the President of AFAD, the Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Members of the Diplomatic Community, the Representatives of the Turkish Red Crescent, UN colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me welcome you once again to UN House.

- The objective of this meeting is to share with you a report prepared by a joint mission of the FAO and WFP to Syria on food security and agricultural and livestock production. While, the UN Country team in Turkey was not involved in the mission, its findings are relevant for Government, donor countries and other stakeholders with an interest in the humanitarian situation in Syria and its implications for Turkey. Hence, I thought it would be useful for the UN in Turkey to host this event.

- The report highlights the situation inside Syria and provides important insights about the negative impact that the prolonged conflict is having on both agriculture and livestock production in Syria and the food security of the Syrian people.

- The mission took place in response to a request to FAO on March 27, 2013 from Syria’s Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (MAAR). It visited the Syrian Arab Republic between May 18 and June 8 2013 and first had meetings with resident UN Agencies and Syrian Government Authorities in Damascus. Field trips were then organized to Homs, Tartous and Al Hasakeh Governorates and meetings were held with small farmers, horticultural producers, traders and some production units in Qamishly province. The mission also undertook surveys in 13 out of 14 Governorates and satellite imagery and other secondary sources supported the analysis.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

- Allow me to proceed by first reminding you about some key aspects of the ongoing Syrian Crisis.

- Since March 2011, violence in Syria has claimed over 93 000 lives and affected 6.8 million people, of whom 4.25 million people are internally displaced and a further 1.6 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

- The revised 2013 Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP) and Regional Response Plan 5 (RRP), launched in Geneva on 7 June 2013, together, represent the largest humanitarian appeal in history. A total of USD 4.4 billion is being sought by the UN to assist Syria (USD 1.4 billion) and countries hosting Syrian refugees (USD 3.0 billion) till December 2013. Emergency support both to provide immediate food assistance as well as to restore agriculture and livelihoods is among the top priorities of the appeal.

- Among the mission’s major findings is that even though rainfall during 2012/13 has been favourable, crop and livestock production, food availability and access to food have all suffered an increasingly heavy toll as a result of ongoing events in Syria.

- The mission highlighted, for example, that current wheat production in Syria is 40 percent less than the annual average of Syria. Syria produced more than 4 million tonnes of wheat per year before the conflict started while current estimates show that last year’s production was around 2.4 million tonnes. This is also 15 percent less than in 2011/2012.

- Equally important, the livestock sector has seen production decreases of as much as 50 percent with growing concern over animal diseases which now pose a serious threat in the region.

- We must act quickly on these issues because, in Syria, approximately 4 million people are now facing food insecurity. Vulnerable groups include the internally displaced, small scale farmers, and herders; casual laborers, petty traders, the urban poor, children, pregnant and lactating mothers, the elderly, the disabled and the chronically sick.

- In July 2013, FAO issued an urgent appeal for USD 41.7 million to provide assistance to 768,000 people in Syria. So far, only US$3.3 million or less than 10 percent has been received. The funds are needed for seeds, fertilizers, equipment, technical assistance and veterinary supplies as well as livelihood support programmes. Funding will need to be secured as soon as possible in order to provide farmers with fertilizers and seeds to plant in October.

- Support to the 2013 wheat planting season will be a turning point for food security in Syria after two consecutive years of way below average wheat harvests. Funding must be secured by August in order to provide crisis-affected farmers with fertilizer and seeds to plant by October. Such support will enable the production of 75,000 tonnes of wheat, while allowing farmers to stay on their land. Without it, many will be unable to harvest wheat again until mid-2015.

- We must also prevent further loss of livestock and safeguard animal health. Livestock provides a continuous source of nutrient-rich foods such as meat, milk and eggs, and a steady income to poor rural families. Animals are starving, are more vulnerable to disease and being sold at a fraction of their value through distress sales.

- As you already know, we have established a UN Syria Response Group in Ankara under my leadership which, on average, meets twice a month to monitor the Syrian crisis’ spillover in Turkey.

- The UN’s global Food Security Cluster, responding to partners' requests, has sent a food security expert and an information manager to Turkey to support NGOs working in Syria from here.

- Failure to provide sufficient assistance to the 8 million Syrians who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods may push more of them to either move internally or across borders to Turkey and other neighboring countries.

- The WFP, on the other hand, is seeking to raise more than US$27 million every week to meet the food needs of people affected by the conflict both inside Syria and in neighboring countries. WFP is appealing for USD 724 million to assist up to 7 million Syrians in urgent need of food assistance until the end of the year.

This includes 4 million people inside Syria and 2.7 million refugees in neighboring countries. Total shortfalls for the period July-December 2013 for both inside and outside Syria amount to USD 607 million of which USD 69 million is required urgently to cover the existing gap for August which is just around the corner. Moreover, for the July - September 2013 period, the WFP operation in Syria is only 48 percent resourced.

- The launch of this report is one of our information sharing activities within our “triangular” network: the Donor Community, Government and the UN.

- We plan to keep the information sharing component of our work as active as possible in order to keep everyone well informed in a timely manner.

- We are grateful for the support your countries have already provided in response to this crisis and to you personally for making yourself available for this event and would be grateful if you could also make use of this platform to share your views and opinions.

I thank you for coming and for your patience and will now invite Mr Byron Poncesegura, WFP Syria Regional Food Security Monitoring and Analysis Officer and Mr Andrea Berloffa, FAO Syria Cluster Focal point to briefly present the Special Report of the recent FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Syrian Arab Republic.

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