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Conflict Report - Syrian Arab Republic: Conflict and Food Insecurity (Updated 21 January, 2021)

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  • Since the start of conflict in 2011, subsequent years of insecurity, widespread displacement, destruction of infrastructure, and economic woes have contributed to reduced levels of agricultural production and increased food insecurity.

  • In the first three months of 2020, conflict escalated in some areas and triggered one million new displacements in the northwest. (Figure 1).

  • Despite generally improved security across much of the country, as of 2020, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that 9.3 million Syrians were food insecure with a further 2.2 million people at risk of food insecurity, an increase from 7.9 million and 1.9 million respectively in 2019 as a result of the declining economy.

  • In 2020, wheat production was estimated to be above the five-year average due to improved security and favourable weather conditions, though it remained well below the pre-crisis production levels.

  • To contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the country introduced a number of measures which have further constrained the economy and livelihood options.


In 2011, anti-Government protests spread throughout the Syrian Arab Republic (hereinafter referred to as "Syria"), marking the start of organized insurgency. Civil insecurity was soon exploited by extremist groups which triggered international intervention. Conflict reached its height in 2014 to 2016 but has declined in recent years as the Syrian Government forces are now in control of the majority of the country's area with opposition strongholds remaining across the north and northwest. Despite security improvements and the return of many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to farmland, damaged infrastructure during years of conflict has resulted in a significant loss in agricultural production potential for the country's staple crops, including wheat.

Although the intensity of the conflict has generally abated across the country, an escalation in the first three months of 2020 triggered an additional one million new displacements in the northwest. During the conflict, widespread displacement has been one of the main factors contributing to decreased agricultural production as households lost their livelihoods and no longer had access to fields or productive assets. Furthermore, nearly a decade of conflict destroyed agricultural land, infrastructure, irrigation systems, and food processing and storage facilities. Although inputs for agriculture remained generally available, they came at a high cost and often compromised quality. Together, these factors limited production capacity, and many previously productive households instead became reliant on market purchases. However, market supply, market access, and household purchasing power have been constrained by conflict and economic crisis, contributing to increasing levels of food insecurity.