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News Syria: Drought driving farmers to the cities

Thousands of Syrian farming families have been forced to move to cities in search of alternative work after two years of drought and failed crops followed a number of unproductive years.

Syria's drought is now in its second year, affecting farming regions in the north and east of the country, especially the northeastern governorate of Hassakeh. Wheat production is just 55 percent of its usual output and barley is seriously affected, according to the UN's drought response plan, drawn up following two recent multi-agency missions.

Blamed on a combination of climate change, man-made desertification and lack of irrigation, up to 60 percent of Syria's land and 1.3 million people are affected, according to the UN. Just over 800,000 people have lost their entire livelihood, according to the UN and IFRC.

No-one knows exactly how many people have migrated across the country because of the drought. The Syrian Ministry for Agriculture and Agrarian Reform's estimate in July was 40,000 to 60,000 families, with 35,000 from Hassakeh alone. But with people moving all the time, the figure is likely to be an underestimate.

The UN's drought response plan found there had been a "dramatic increase in the already substantial migration out of the affected areas". Migrants head for the cities of Damascus, Aleppo and Homs, according to the report.

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News type Inbrief
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Source of information Irin News - © IRIN 2009.
Keyword(s) drought
Geographical coverage Syria
News date 02/09/2009
Working language(s) ENGLISH