Syria crisis, neighbouring countries - Top three priorities
- Prevent and contain the spread of transboundary animal diseases
The top threat to the region’s agriculture sector is the spread of Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) from Syria to neighbouring countries. Syrian veterinary services and animal vaccination programmes have been severely impacted over the past 6–12 months. Along the Syrian border, cases of TADs have already been identified at higher than normal levels – including HPAI, bluetongue, bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, cutaneous leishmania, foot-and-mouth disease, lumping skin disease, pest of small ruminants and rabies. FAO seeks urgent funding to strengthen the capacity of countries in the region to prevent and contain the spread of TADs, ensuring that crucial veterinary and livestock extension services (e.g. surveillance, vaccination campaigns and quarantine facilities) are functioning at community level, especially in remote areas along the Syrian border. In Egypt, FAO has a fully operationally TAD control programme supporting the Government’s veterinary services, which could be scaled up to meet the new challenges of the Syria crisis. Such activities are vital to safeguard human and animal health and to protect livestock production – an essential source of nutrition and income for refugees and host communities.
- Improve food and phytosanitary control services along the border with Syria
As a result of the crisis, regional agricultural trade routes have changed and informal cross-border commodities trading, has increased throughout the region. These developments may lead to lower quality food being traded and a higher risk of transboundary plant diseases and pests accompanying the moving commodities. Weak food safety and phytosanitary inspection systems in neighbouring countries are a serious concern, particularly at existing border crossings and especially at new border crossings. Ultimately, the poorest and most vulnerable consumers are most at risk, often forced to buy cheap and unsafe food. At this critical time, FAO seeks to support countries in strengthening food and phytosanitary control through, for example, improved import/export food inspection and certification systems, and laboratory facilities.
- Recover food production and income generation among host communities and other vulnerable groups in the border and peri-urban areas of neighbouring countries
Food availability and access are severely threatened in countries neighbouring Syria. The crisis has disrupted trade (and trade routes) of food and agricultural commodities. The availability of agricultural inputs has declined and import prices have increased in most of the countries. The importation of food products from Syria has decreased considerably. The reduced local capacity to produce food is compounded by a significant rise in food demand due to the massive influx of refugees and returnees from Syria, increased fiscal burden to maintain food subsidies and declining incomes of host communities. To cope with the growing pressure of the crisis and influx of refugees, host communities need urgent assistance to recover agricultural production and increase income generation. With donor funding, FAO will help families most affected by the crisis by supporting crop and livestock production (including poultry raising); urban gardening; micro-garden initiatives in refugee camps; small-scale food processing, packaging, storage and marketing and cottage industry. Such assistance is vital in order for host communities to feed themselves and generate income, while strengthening their potential to assist refugees.