News Alert: Conflict in Ukraine Likely to Worsen Food Insecurity in Northwest Syria

April 13, 2022

A new Mercy Corps report finds that ripple effects from the conflict in Ukraine threaten to exacerbate food insecurity in Northwest Syria, already rising after a decade of conflict and economic instability. More than 4.1 million people are food insecure in Northwest Syria and even before conflict erupted in Ukraine, the region saw a 86% increase in food prices from January 2021 to January 2022. 

 Additional report findings include:

  • The price of essential food items in Northwest Syria has already increased up to 22% and 67% (varies by region) since the start of the conflict in Ukraine. Price increases have been accompanied by a shortage in sunflower oil, sugar, and flour in some communities.
  • Food needs have increased 8.3% for every $1 increase in flour prices and 6.2% for every $1 increase in wheat prices.
  • Fuel reserves are most likely sufficient to last one to two months, largely due to insufficient storage facilities. Any increase in fuel prices increases the cost of food transportation and could limit bakeries’ ability to use needed machinery to produce bread.
  • Between 17 February and 10 March, the town of Sarmada experienced: a 44% increase in the price of bulger, 67% increase in the price of sunflower oil, 47% increase in the price of long grain rice, and 30% increase in the price of sugar.

Mercy Corps Syria Country Director, Kieren Barnes, says:

“Even before the war in Ukraine, bread was already becoming increasingly unaffordable. The vast majority of wheat imported from Turkey into Northwest Syria is of Ukrainian origin and this region does not have sufficient local wheat production to cover its bread needs. From 2021 to 2022, wheat production in Idlib fell from 700,000 to 33,500 tons, in part because less land is able to be cultivated because of low rainfall, continuing conflict, and land contamination."

Mercy Corps has been working in Syria since 2008, delivering emergency assistance and addressing longer-term needs both before and during the current crisis. In the Northwest, we have provided essential support including water, food, shelter, sanitation services, and livelihoods assistance to Syrians displaced multiple times throughout the course of the conflict.