Rome: Almost three million people in Syria are in need of assistance as the country's civil war has devastated food production, according to a joint study by two UN organisations.
"Of this number, around 1.5 million people need urgent and immediate food assistance over the next three to six months, especially in areas that have seen the greatest conflict and population displacement," said the report released Thursday by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP).
Fighting between opposition and government forces has claimed more than 20,000 lives since clashes started around 17 months ago, according to human rights organisations.
The crisis has resulted in a loss of 1.8 billion euros this year in the Syrian agricultural sector, as shown by the investigation.
"While the economic implications of these losses are quite grave, the humanitarian implications are far more pressing," said WFP representative in Syria Muhannad Hadi.
"The effects of these major losses are first, and most viciously, felt by the poorest in the country," he said.
Hadi said most of the families visited during the investigation are spending more than they make. The violence has also forced rural families to give up food farming.
"If timely assistance is not provided, the livelihood system of these vulnerable people could simply collapse in a few months' time. Winter is fast approaching and urgent action is needed before then," Hadi said after his mission visit to Al Hassekeh.
"Even the richest family in a village reported having food stock for only one more month," he said.
First Published: Thursday, August 2, 2012, 23:42