ROME - Four million Syrians, or a fifth of the population, are unable to produce or buy enough food for their needs and the situation could deteriorate further next year if the two-year old conflict continues, the United Nations said on Friday.
Following a visit to Syria between May and June, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) said in a report that domestic production over the next twelve months is likely to be severely compromised.
The agencies estimated Syria would need to import 1.5 million tonnes of wheat for the 2013/14 season. Wheat production has fallen to 2.4 million tonnes, some 40 percent less than the annual average harvest before the conflict of more than 4 million tonnes, they said.
Syria's neighbors have closed or tightened restrictions at several border crossings, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded within Syria's dangerous frontier regions, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
It said Iraq, Jordan and Turkey had all restricted the flow of people trying to flee the conflict which has already driven 1.7 million more to take sanctuary outside Syria.
More than 100,000 people have been killed since the start of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, now the longest and most violent of the recent Arab uprisings, a monitoring group said last Wednesday.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is opposed to President Bashar Assad, said the figure included 18,000 rebel fighters and about 40,000 soldiers and pro-Assad militiamen. But the true number of combatants killed was likely double that due to both sides' secrecy in reporting casualties, it said.
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