March 25, 2010

Read This Now: Syria: Over a Million People Affected by Drought

In a previous Natural Security News post, which you read with religious fervor no doubt, we included an article from Bloomberg News which brought to light some serious water issues in Syria. The article cited a recent UN report which details the sweeping effects of drought in the region. Being my curious self, I thought it best to get the info straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak, and after reading the report, I must say you should probably read this now.

The report, entitled Syria: Over a million people affected by drought, hits a field of Natural Security that hasn’t been featured too prominently in the blog as of recent, but has certainly been a concern of ours, that of environmental refugees, in addition to detailing some devastating consequences for Syrian food security.

The UN report immediately scopes the drought, opening with the following, rather sobering, lines:

Drought in eastern and northeastern Syria has driven some 300,000 families to urban settlements such as Aleppo, Damascus and Deir ez Zour in search of work in one of the largest internal displacements in the Middle East in recent years.

The country's agriculture sector, which until recently employed 40 percent of Syria's workforce and accounted for 25 percent of gross domestic product, has been hit badly. . .

The combined factors of economic loss and population displacement could later feed into a cycle of destabilization; something which UN Food and Agricultural Organization Representative Abdulla Bin Yehia seems cautiously hopeful to avoid. With a recent uptick in rain, Bin Yehia comments that, “It is only at the end of March or beginning of April that we can say if this year's crop will be successful or not. For now we can only say 'so far, so good.’ ”

So far I’m worried, but it’s so good to hear someone holding onto optimism.