We are only beginning to see the war in Ukraine’s destructive effects on Syria.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reverberated around the world. Ukrainians themselves have obviously been most directly affected, and most grievously. But the war has also impacted international relations, global financial networks, and commodity markets, with dangerous implications for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.1
Syria is particularly exposed to the Ukraine war’s fallout, both because of Syria’s ongoing humanitarian crisis and the precarious state of its economy after more than a decade of conflict, and because of Russia’s pivotal role in Syria, where it has been one of the Syrian government’s most crucial allies. In coming months, Syrians are likely to suffer even worse privation, as rising food prices further outstrip impoverished Syrians’ limited means. What’s more, the international diplomatic focus on a zero-sum war in Ukraine will threaten the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Syria and other compromises to support aid—compromises that have lately depended on a U.S.–Russian dialogue that now seems impossible as the Ukraine conflict rages.
Media coverage of Syria’s link to the Ukraine conflict has, to a large extent, focused on how Russia’s fight in Syria presages its tactics in Ukraine, and on suggestions that Russia may recruit Syrians to fight on its latest battlefield.2 But the war in Ukraine is having other effects on Syria, ones that are more tangible and immediate.
So far, the war in Ukraine has had at least two main, significant impacts on Syria. First, the Ukraine conflict’s global economic effects will exacerbate humanitarian suffering inside Syria, including food insecurity that is already at alarming levels. And second, the war marks the seeming end of a U.S.–Russian dialogue on Syria that, over the past year, has produced some meaningful humanitarian compromises. The suspension of those bilateral talks has clear humanitarian import, but it may also have more far-ranging political and security implications. And now that global attention is focused on this new conflict in Europe, protracted crises like Syria’s are slipping further down policymakers’ list of priorities—just as conditions for ordinary Syrians are about to become even more dire.
The Specter of Hunger
The Ukraine conflict’s added stress on Syria’s economy will further threaten Syrians’ ability to eke out some minimum livelihood and feed their families.
Syrians are especially vulnerable to an exogenous shock like Ukraine’s war. The United Nations estimates that, of Syria’s population of 21.7 million people, 14.6 million need humanitarian assistance. Roughly 12 million are “food insecure,” and thus lack secure access to sufficient safe and nutritious food.3
Syria has been suffering a hunger crisis for more than two years. Starting in 2020, the number of food-insecure Syrians rose by 4.5 million people (57 percent) over the year before. The reason was a sort of economic perfect storm: neighboring Lebanon’s economic meltdown, the COVID-19 pandemic, and an intensification of Western sanctions all combined to batter a Syrian economy already weakened by a decade of war.4 The value of the country’s currency, the lira, plummeted, and ordinary Syrians’ purchasing power was crushed. The country also suffered shortages of key commodities, as the cash-strapped Syrian government struggled to import enough fuel and wheat to keep the country’s economy moving and to feed the Syrian public. But more than anything, the country’s hunger crisis was an issue of “access”—a term employed by humanitarians for people’s ability to reach markets and afford goods—and less an issue of “availability,” or the actual supply of those goods in Syrian markets.
Syria had a major access problem because regular Syrians suddenly faced a large and growing income deficit: whereas Syrian households’ average income and average expenditure were nearly equal in 2019, by 2021 their average expenditure outstripped their income by 49 percent.5 That deficit has translated, in practice, to Syrians not eating, or resorting to what humanitarians call negative coping strategies, such as child labor and child marriage.
The Ukraine conflict has delivered a major new shock to food markets—Russia and Ukraine together supply 30 percent of wheat to global markets.
Global food prices had hit record highs even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, thanks to factors including the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues.6 Now, the Ukraine conflict has delivered a major new shock to food markets. Russia and Ukraine together supply 30 percent of wheat to global markets, in addition to major proportions of corn, barley, and sunflower seed oil supplies.7 Since February, Russia has blocked Ukrainian exports from the Black Sea, and Russia itself has largely been unable to export due to Western sanctions’ effects on trade finance.8 Prices of these commodities have since increased dramatically.9 The war will also depress future agricultural production around the world: conflict is hitting Ukrainian farmers directly, but Russia is additionally the world’s largest fertilizer exporter, and the price of fuel, another key input for farmers, has also spiked.10
Any increase in the price of these commodities has major implications for Syrians’ ability to eat. In particular, Syria needs to import large quantities of wheat, with which Syrians produce the pita bread that is the crux of local diets. Sunflower oil is also a staple of Syrian cooking.11
Humanitarians believe that, so long as more countries do not implement export bans, food insecurity in Syria is likely to remain mostly an issue of access (affordability), not availability. But even before the Ukraine conflict, food prices in Syria had, month after month, hit all-time highs.12 When prices increase further, that will endanger the 12 million people in Syria who are currently food insecure, and could push an additional 1.9 million Syrians into food insecurity.13
The precise implications of these price increases will differ by area, given Syria’s divided map of military and political control. On wheat specifically, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) previously estimated Syria’s total requirements for 2022 at 4.3 million metric tons.14 But Syria’s cereal harvest last year was historically poor, due to factors including insufficient rainfall and the high cost of inputs.15 The country’s average wheat production before 2011 had been 4.1 million metric tons; last year, wheat production was estimated at just a little over 1 million metric tons.16 And even that diminished volume of wheat will not be distributed evenly; 70 percent of Syria’s wheat production originates from areas outside Syrian government control, where local authorities have lately bought up crops at prices more competitive than those offered by Damascus.17 To feed the majority of Syrians living in areas of government control—more than 60 percent of the country’s population, by one relatively recent estimate—Damascus has no choice but to import.18
Government officials have downplayed fears of bread shortages, saying that existing wheat reserves and contracted imports should be enough for the rest of the year.19 The minister for internal trade and consumer protection has said that Western sanctions should be no barrier to the country’s mostly Russian wheat imports.20 Damascus imports 180,000 metric tons of wheat monthly, according to the country’s economy minister.21 It remains to be seen, however, whether sharply rising wheat prices could jeopardize existing contracts. The head of the Syrian Grain Establishment (a government body) has said that Russia continues to deliver wheat at previously agreed prices, but that Syria was also seeking alternate suppliers because the rising cost of shipping insurance had made imports more expensive.22 The FAO previously projected that the Syrian government would import 1 million metric tons of wheat for the 2021–22 year, which it said would still leave an uncovered shortfall of 1.9 million tons needed for Syria’s total domestic consumption, including a 1.6 million-ton shortfall just in government-held areas.23 It is not clear how the government will manage to source enough wheat and ensure widely available, affordable food for the Syrian public.
The Ukraine conflict’s impact on global energy markets will also likely threaten Syrian food security. Higher fuel prices are expected both to strain public finances by raising the cost of government subsidies and to make transportation and food in markets more expensive for the average Syrian.24
Syrian government officials have acknowledged that Syria will be affected by the skyrocketing price of imports but have also tried to assuage fears of a larger food crisis.25 After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government also announced it would ration supplies of key commodities and restrict food exports.26
The Syrian government heavily subsidizes an assortment of staple goods that citizens can buy from wholesalers and other retailers using a state-issued smart card. But subsidized items can only be purchased in limited quantities, and Damascus has recently disqualified hundreds of thousands of better-off Syrian families from receiving subsidies—apparently erroneously, in some instances.27
It is not only Syrians in government-held areas that are at risk from the Ukraine conflict.
It is not only Syrians in government-held areas that are at risk from the Ukraine conflict. Northeastern Syria is controlled by the United States’ Kurdish-led Syrian partners, but remains partially integrated economically into areas of Syrian government control. The northeast can rely on locally grown wheat, but it still needs to import soft wheat to produce bread, in addition to other key imports.28 The area will necessarily suffer from rising food prices and any further weakening of the Syrian lira. Even displaced Syrians in the al-Rukban camp—next to the U.S. military outpost at al-Tanaf, in Syria’s central desert—survive on flour and other goods smuggled from surrounding areas of government control.29
The country’s rebel-held northwest, meanwhile, is more economically linked to neighboring Turkey than to adjacent areas of Syrian government control, and therefore seems partially insulated from economic conditions in government areas. Despite that, the northwest nonetheless seems extremely vulnerable to the Ukraine conflict’s effects. The enclave holds 4.4 million Syrians, according to UN estimates, including 2.8 million internally displaced people. Of the area’s population, a huge proportion require humanitarian assistance: 3.4 million people need aid, and 3.1 million are considered food insecure.30 Local authorities have largely transitioned to using the Turkish currency, and humanitarian organizations working in the northwest do their procurement in Turkey. But that just means the area is exposed to Turkey’s economic turmoil—its currency lost almost half its value last year—and Turkey is itself susceptible to the Ukraine war’s effects on global markets.31 Notably, Turkey relies heavily on wheat from Russia and Ukraine, and almost all the flour in northwest Syria’s bakeries is imported from Turkey.32 Now, Turkey has restricted exports of agricultural products, with uncertain implications for Syria’s northwest.33 The area also imports fuel from Turkey; higher fuel prices will not only impact transportation but will also have pass-through effects on food prices.34 Reportedly, local authorities in the northwest have already raised prices.35
Aid organizations, for their part, will struggle to meet Syria’s increased humanitarian need, because these organizations will themselves be affected by the Ukraine conflict. Rising prices mean these organizations’ budgets will purchase less, as their operations and procurement become more expensive. World Food Programme head David Beasley, for example, has said the agency’s global costs have increased by $71 million a month.36 Beasley has said his organization has already had to reduce food rations for refugees and other vulnerable people in Middle East countries.37 What’s more, the war in Ukraine is likely to divert donor attention and resources from protracted conflicts like Syria’s.
In addition to the Ukraine conflict’s economic and humanitarian ramifications for Syria, the war will also affect Syrian diplomacy in ways that, in turn, pose new humanitarian and security risks.
Over the past year, the United States and Russia maintained an ongoing, apparently productive dialogue on humanitarian issues in Syria. It was this dialogue that yielded UN Security Council Resolution 2585 in July, which renewed the UN mandate to deliver cross-border humanitarian assistance from Turkey to northwestern Syria, without the Syrian government’s approval. The renewal of the cross-border authorization was part of a larger compromise that also included the Security Council’s endorsement of both humanitarian “early recovery” assistance across Syria and “cross-line” aid from areas of Syrian government control to the rebel-held northwest and other regions beyond Damascus’s reach.38 In addition, Washington has worked to better define the limits of U.S. sanctions on Syria, in order to facilitate international aid and other economic activities that are technically permitted under U.S. sanctions regulations, but nonetheless impeded by sanctions’ chilling effect.39
Though Resolution 2585 effectively renewed the cross-border authorization for a year, it technically only ensured renewal for six months, with a further six-month renewal in January subject to a report by the UN Secretary-General on aid operations. That January renewal seemed to represent a test of Russia’s readiness to continue engaging constructively. Moscow could have turned the leadup to the renewal vote into another bruising diplomatic fight; instead, it allowed the six-month extension with minimal drama, in an apparent signal that Moscow wanted to keep dealing on Syria-related humanitarian issues.40
That further engagement now seems impossible, however. The United States and Russia have kept up some diplomatic interactions on key issues—notably, they have continued to jointly participate in multilateral negotiations to restore the Iran nuclear deal—but bilateral talks on cross-border assistance to Syria and related humanitarian issues are likely finished.
The end of those talks probably means no additional progress on humanitarian compromises in Syria. It appears unlikely that measures agreed over the past year, including headway on early recovery assistance, will be entirely reversed.41 But whatever other accommodations might have been possible—and which might have further mitigated Syrians’ suffering—now seem to be off the table.
Additionally, the end of this U.S.–Russian dialogue adds new uncertainty about whether Russia will permit the renewal of the UN cross-border humanitarian mandate when it comes up again in the Security Council this July. Diplomats and humanitarians say the United Kingdom and Germany have worked to develop an alternate coordination mechanism that could partially replace the UN’s organizing role in the cross-border aid effort if the Security Council fails to renew the UN cross-border mandate. Humanitarians have long insisted, however, that there is no real substitute for the UN-led cross-border aid effort from Turkey, in terms of the volume of assistance delivered and the transparency of the operation.42
The cross-border humanitarian response sustains millions of Syrians in the country’s northwest—a part of the country that, again, appears especially vulnerable to the Ukraine conflict’s economic impacts, given its population density, acute humanitarian need, and exposure to Turkish markets.43 Nonrenewal of the cross-border mandate seems likely to be disastrous, even if Western donors take every possible precaution.
In addition to these humanitarian concerns, there is also reason to worry that a halt to U.S.–Russian engagement on Syria could encourage Russia to play a more destabilizing role in Syria generally. Russia, to be clear, has not taken some of the more dangerous and escalatory steps available to it in Syria. There is little indication so far that the Russian military has behaved more aggressively toward U.S. forces in Syria, or that Russia has stopped abiding by “deconfliction” measures previously agreed with the United States.44 But for the past year, the United States and Russia had been jointly invested in stability in Syria. Both stood to gain from relative calm, as they explored what compromises were possible to improve humanitarian conditions nationwide. Now, however, Russia may see less benefit in stability and quiet.
One example of how a less stability-minded Russia could matter: late last year, Turkey loudly threatened a new military intervention against the U.S. military’s Kurdish-led partners in Syria.45 Turkey considers those partners an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey. Turkey has previously intervened militarily in Syria to prevent those Kurdish-led forces from carving out a contiguous zone along Turkey’s southern border. When Ankara threatened an attack last year, it may have been angling for a sort of territorial swap, whereby Russia would stand aside as Turkish-backed Syrian rebels seized additional territory from those U.S. partners in exchange for Turkish acquiescence to a Russian-backed advance by the Syrian military—for example, on the country’s rebel-held northwest. Turkey has coordinated with Russia to strike at the United States’ local partners before.46 Last year, however, Washington and Moscow both reportedly rebuffed Ankara; Turkey’s saber-rattling just sort of faded into nothing.47
At that moment last year, the United States and Russia were still exploring the possibilities for new humanitarian compromise. Now that those possibilities are foreclosed, however, it is less clear how Moscow would respond if Turkey agitated for new military action in Syria.
Washington is reportedly planning to announce geographically delimited exemptions to U.S. sanctions on Syria, covering areas of Syria’s northeast controlled by the United States’ Kurdish-led partners; and a northern section of Aleppo province controlled by the Turkish-backed opposition.48 These new exemptions could additionally facilitate aid to these areas and permit private investment. But they could also contribute to Syria’s effective breakup, contravening the United States and other international stakeholders’ oft-repeated commitment to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Because of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, global markets are in turmoil, and U.S.–Russian humanitarian talks on Syria appear finished.
Turkey has reportedly expressed reservations about the planned sanctions exemptions, which seem as if they could aggravate Ankara’s concerns about Kurdish separatism to its south.49 And to the extent that these exemptions further solidify Syria’s internal dividing lines—ensuring most of the country’s wheat, oil, and other resource wealth remains beyond Syrian government control—then Moscow also has a seeming incentive to de-solidify those same lines.
Engagement between the United States and Russia on Syria had recently yielded some humanitarian benefit for the Syrian people. On the other hand, if Moscow and Washington become newly at odds in Syria, that conflict will be dangerous—first and foremost for vulnerable Syrians.
Mitigating the Damage
This past year seemed to promise at least some modest improvement for Syrians. After economic and humanitarian conditions in Syria reached new extremes in 2020, the United States, Russia and other international stakeholders achieved some basic humanitarian compromises last year that seemed as if they could relieve pressure on beleaguered Syrians.
Because of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, however, the potential for such improvements seems to have disappeared. Global markets are in turmoil. U.S.–Russian humanitarian talks appear finished. For Syrians, things will become worse—potentially much worse, if Russia decides to play a more disruptive role in Syria and the country’s armed conflict escalates again.
For the United States and other Western donor countries, it is still worth doing what they can to mitigate Syrians’ hardship. It’s natural that policy attention is now fixed on Ukraine. But humanitarian need in Syria was already at all-time highs even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now, the Ukraine conflict has led to a region-wide food crisis, threatening supplies of grains, vegetable oil, and fuel, not just to Syria but also to other countries in the region such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Lebanon.50 Donors need to do what they can to shield vulnerable people in these and other countries from the consequences of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.51 The U.S. Agency for International Development has already announced new emergency food assistance for Lebanon, citing concerns that interruptions to Ukrainian wheat imports would exacerbate Lebanese food insecurity.52 Syrians could also use added help, if donors can identify similar contingency funds.
The West and Russia, meanwhile, should try to resume some humanitarian dialogue on Syria. Relations between the West and Russia are likely to remain fraught and hostile, and understandably so. Nonetheless, both sides should attempt to compartmentalize Syrian humanitarian issues, and to maintain some functional humanitarian talks even as the Ukraine conflict continues. The UN’s cross-border humanitarian mandate is still coming up for renewal in the Security Council in July; it cannot pass without the assent of the council’s five permanent members, including Russia.
The United States and its Western allies’ recent steps to ameliorate humanitarian conditions in Syria—including their endorsement of “early recovery” assistance—may have been taken as part of compromises brokered with Russia. But these measures make sense in more than just reciprocal terms, as some trade with the Russians. Alleviating Syrians’ suffering is a Western interest; moves to that end are worth pursuing in their own right, for the West’s own reasons. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made humanitarian cooperation in Syria much harder. It now falls on the United States and its allies to ensure Syrians don’t suffer even more for Russia’s irresponsible and destructive actions.
This report is part of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship: Authoritarianism and the Emerging Global Culture of Resistance,” a TCF project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Open Society Foundations.
Cover photo: Displaced Syrian children wait to receive toys handed out by Turkish Red Crescent employees at a camp for displaced people on the outskirts of Idlib, Syria, on November 26, 2021. Source: Chris McGrath/Getty Images
- Jonathan Wheatley and Colby Smith, “Russia Sanctions Threaten to Erode Dominance of Us Dollar, Says IMF,” Financial Times, March 31, 2022, https://www.ft.com/content/3e0760d4-8127-41db-9546-e62b6f8f5773; David Beasley, “The Ukraine War Could Leave Hundreds of Millions Hungry Around the World,” Washington Post, March 7, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/03/07/ukraine-war-hunger-united-nations-world-food-programme/.
- Gordon Lubold et al., “Russia Recruiting Syrians for Urban Combat in Ukraine, U.S. Officials Say,” Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-recruiting-syrians-for-urban-combat-in-ukraine-u-s-officials-say-11646606234; Jared Szuba, “Russia Not Sending Syrians to Ukraine Just Yet, Top US General Says,” Al-Monitor, March 21, 2022, https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/03/russia-not-sending-syrians-ukraine-just-yet-top-us-general-says.
- “2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview: Syrian Arab Republic,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), February 22, 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/2022-humanitarian-needs-overview-syrian-arab-republic-february-2022.
- Sam Heller, “Syrians Are Going Hungry. Will the West Act?,” Century International, June 7, 2021, https://tcf.org/content/report/syrians-going-hungry-will-west-act/.
- For example, see OCHA, “2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview,” 66.
- “Food Prices Jump 20.7% Yr/yr to Hit Record High in Feb, U.N. Agency Says,” Reuters, March 5, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/food-prices-hit-record-high-february-un-agency-says-2022-03-04/.
- “Food Security Implications of the Ukraine Conflict,” World Food Programme (WFP), March 11, 2022, https://www.wfp.org/publications/food-security-implications-ukraine-conflict.
- Jack Nicas, “Ukraine War Threatens to Cause a Global Food Crisis,” New York Times, March 20, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/20/world/americas/ukraine-war-global-food-crisis.html.
- WFP, “Food Security Implications of the Ukraine Conflict.”
- Cara Anna and Aya Batraway, “Ukraine’s Other Fight: Growing Food for Itself and the World,” Associated Press, March 29, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-business-europe-middle-east-lifestyle-30b9694f3167580d674355ddb6aabdd8; Tom Polansek and Ana Mano, “As Sanctions Bite Russia, Fertilizer Shortage Imperils World Food Supply,” Reuters, March 24, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/sanctions-bite-russia-fertilizer-shortage-imperils-world-food-supply-2022-03-23/.
- Sarah Dadouch, “Panic Buying Spreads in Middle East as Russian Invasion Sparks Fear Over Food and Fuel,” Washington Post, March 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/16/middle-east-food-fuel-crisis/.
- “Syria Country Office Market Price Watch Bulletin Issue 87, February 2022,” WFP, March 16, 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/syria-country-office-market-price-watch-bulletin-issue-87-february-2022.
- OCHA, “2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview,” OCHA, 70.
- “Special Report: 2021 FAO Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to the Syrian Arab Republic,” UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), December 17, 2021, https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/special-report-2021-fao-crop-and-food-supply-assessment-mission-syrian, 74.
- Bartholomäus Laffert and Daniela Sala, “Conflict and Climate Change Collide: Why Northeast Syria Is Running Dry,” The New Humanitarian, December 20, 2021, https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2021/12/20/conflict-climate-change-why-northeast-Syria-is-running-dry.
- “GIEWS Country Brief: The Syrian Arab Republic,” FAO, December 21, 2021, https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/giews-country-brief-syrian-arab-republic-21-december-2021.
- FAO, “Special Report: 2021 FAO Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission,” 75.
- The UN Humanitarian Needs Assessment Programme’s (HNAP) December 2020 estimates put the population of Syrian government-controlled areas at 13.7 million people as of December 2020. See “HNAP: COVID-19 Vulnerability Mapping (Central and Southern Syria—Round 8)—Dec 2020,” HNAP, January 11, 2011, https://assessments.hpc.tools/assessment/a923a42b-577e-4ff6-bf60-8cde28190830.
- “Khalil: Syria Isn’t Isolated from Effect of Global Crises, Government Is Trying to Reduce Their Severity” (in Arabic), SANA, February 24, 2022, https://www.sana.sy/?p=1588842; “Syria – Eng. Arnous: There Won’t Be Any Food Problem in Syria” (in Arabic), published to YouTube by “the Syrian News Channel” (in Arabic), March 14, 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtlhMjHWRYQ.
- Amr N. Salem (@amrnatheersalem), “Amr N. Salem,” Facebook post, March 18, 2022, https://www.facebook.com/amrnatheersalem/posts/458513062734616.
- SANA, “Khalil: Syria Isn’t Isolated from Effect of Global Crises.”
- Tishreen Newspaper (@tishreen.news.sy), “Grains Corporation: Contract for 200,000 Tons of Grain from India” (in Arabic), Facebook post, March 16, 2022, https://www.facebook.com/tishreen.news.sy/posts/519083553116436.
- AO, “Special Report: 2021 FAO Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission,” 75.
- “Syria mVAM Bulletin #64: February 2022,” WFP, February 28, 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/syria-mvam-bulletin-64-february-2022.
- Amr N. Salem (@amrnatheersalem), “Amr N. Salem,” Facebook post, March 18, 2022, https://www.facebook.com/amrnatheersalem/posts/457871866132069; “President Assad to Teachers on Their Day: We Need to Produce a Generation That Faces Challenges and Doesn’t Run from Them… A Selfless One That Knows the Meaning of Generosity” (in Arabic), SANA, March 17, 2022, http://www.sana.sy/?p=1607081.
- “In Exceptional Session… Council of Ministers Approves Measures to Reduce Ramifications of Ukrainian Crisis for Syria” (in Arabic), SANA, March 24, 2022, https://www.sana.sy/?p=1588718; “Council of Ministers Approves Plan and Implementing Programs Including Setting Priorities for Directing Spending and Reinforcing Reserves of Basic Goods” (in Arabic), Presidency of the Council of Ministers, March 1, 2022, www.pministry.gov.sy/contents/22754/مجلس-الوزراء-يقر-خطة-وبرامج-تنفيذية-تتضمن-تحديد-أولويات-توجيه-الإنفاق-وتعزيز-المخازين-من-المواد-الأساسية-.
- Walid Al Nofal, “Lifting Subsidies, Damascus Deals Its Citizens an Economic Blow,” Syria Direct, March 9, 2022, https://syriadirect.org/lifting-subsidies-damascus-deals-its-citizens-an-economic-blow/.
- “Wheat-to-Bread Processing Facilities Mapping: Study for Northeast Syria, November 2021,” iMMAP, February 7, 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/wheat-bread-processing-facilities-mapping-study-northeast-syria-november; “Northeast Syria Joint Market Monitoring Initiative (JMMI) 3-10 January 2022,” REACH, March 24, 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/northeast-syria-joint-market-monitoring-initiative-jmmi-3-10-january.
- Alaa Nassar, “A New Bread Crisis: Rukban on the Brink of Humanitarian Catastrophe,” Syria Direct, March 25, 2022, https://syriadirect.org/a-new-bread-crisis-rukban-on-the-brink-of-humanitarian-catastrophe/.
- These population estimates also include the much smaller population of another enclave controlled by Turkish-backed opposition farther east, in the “Operation Peace Spring” region spanning Raqqa and al-Hasakeh provinces. “Northwest Syria—Factsheet (as of 31 December 2021),” OCHA, February 2, 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/northwest-syria-factsheet-31-december-2021.
- “Turkish Lira Declines to Weakest Since December Over Ukraine Concerns,” Reuters, March 9, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/turkish-lira-declines-weakest-since-december-over-ukraine-concerns-2022-03-09/.
- “Grain: World Markets and Trade,” USDA–FAS, March 9, 2022, https://fas.usda.gov/data/grain-world-markets-and-trade; “Wheat-to-Bread Processing Facilities Mapping: Study for Northwest Syria, November 2021,” iMMAP, March 7, 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/immap-releases-new-mapping-study-northwest-syria-s-wheat-bread. See also remarks by “Syrian Salvation Government” official to Syrian news site Enab Baladi: Amal Rantisi et al., “Fire in Kiev… And the Toll in Damascus” (in Arabic), Enab Baladi, March 6, 2022, https://www.enabbaladi.net/archives/554255.
- “Turkey Imposes Temporary Ban on Certain Agricultural Exports,” USDA–FAS, March 15, 2022, https://www.fas.usda.gov/data/turkey-turkey-imposes-temporary-ban-certain-agricultural-exports.
- “The Russian–Ukrainian Conflict and Its Food Security Implications in Northwest Syria,” Mercy Corps Humanitarian Access Team, March 2022, https://www.humanitarianaccessteam.org/reports/situation-reports/situation-report-russian-ukrainian-conflict-and-its-food-security.
- Mohammed Hardan, “Jihadi Group Raises Prices in Syria’s Idlib as War Rages in Ukraine,” Al-Monitor, March 18, 2022, https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/03/jihadi-group-raises-prices-syrias-idlib-war-rages-ukraine.
- Nicas, “Ukraine War Threatens to Cause a Global Food Crisis.”
- “Ukraine war: More countries will ‘feel the burn’ as food and energy price rises fuel hunger, warns WFP,” WFP, March 11, 2022, https://www.wfp.org/stories/ukraine-war-more-countries-will-feel-burn-food-and-energy-price-rises-fuel-hunger-warns-wfp.
- Sam Heller, “‘Early Recovery’ Aid Can Provide Vital Relief to Syrians—If Donors Follow Through,” Century International, December 16, 2021, https://tcf.org/content/commentary/early-recovery-aid-can-provide-vital-relief-syrians-donors-follow/.
- Sam Heller, “Lights on in Lebanon: Limiting the Fallout from U.S. Sanctions in Syria,” War on the Rocks, November 10, 2021, https://warontherocks.com/2021/11/lights-on-in-lebanon-limiting-the-fallout-from-u-s-sanctions-on-syria/.
- “Cross-Border Syria Aid Gets 6-month Extension without New UN Vote,” AFP, January 10, 2022, https://www.barrons.com/news/cross-border-syria-aid-gets-6-month-extension-without-new-un-vote-01641844507.
- “Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths Briefing to the Security Council on the Humanitarian Situation in Syria,” OCHA, March 24, 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/under-secretary-general-humanitarian-affairs-and-emergency-relief-121.
- For example, see “UN Officials Appeal for Extension of Lifesaving Cross-Border Aid Operations into Syria,” UN News, June 23, 2021, https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/06/1094572.
- OCHA, “Northwest Syria—Factsheet (as of 31 December 2021).”
- Szuba, “Russia Not Sending Syrians to Ukraine Just Yet, Top US General Says.”
- Orhan Coskun, “Turkey Plans Military Action against Syrian Kurdish YPG If Diplomacy Fails,” Reuters, October 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/turkey-plans-military-action-against-syrian-kurdish-ypg-if-diplomacy-fails-2021-10-15/; Suleiman Al-Khalidi, “Syrian Rebels Mobilise for Possible Turkish Attack on Kurdish Fighters,” Reuters, November 4, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/syrian-rebels-mobilise-possible-turkish-attack-kurdish-fighters-2021-11-04/.
- Aron Lund, “How Afrin Became Syria’s Latest Humanitarian Disaster,” The New Humanitarian, March 19, 2018, https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/analysis/2018/03/19/how-afrin-became-syria-s-latest-humanitarian-disaster.
- Amberin Zaman, “Syrian Kurdish Commander Says Russia Opposes Further Turkish Land Grabs,” Al-Monitor,
November 9, 2021, https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2021/11/syria-kurdish-commander-assured-washington-turkey-wont-invade-again.
- Amberin Zaman, “Biden Administration to Announce Sanctions Waivers for Syrian Kurds, Sunni Opposition-held Areas,” Al-Monitor, March 7, 2022, https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/03/biden-administration-announce-sanctions-waivers-syrian-kurds-sunni-opposition.
- Zaman, “Biden Administration to Announce Sanctions Waivers.” Ibrahim Hamidi, “US to Announce Sanctions Exemptions in Areas Falling Outside Syrian Regime Control,” Asharq Al-Awsat, https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/3526546/us-announce-sanctions-exemptions-areas-falling-outside-syrian-regime-control.
- Heba Saleh and Emiko Terazono, “Ukraine War Sparks Food Shortages in Arab Nations as Wheat Prices Soar,” Financial Times, March 21, 2020, https://www.ft.com/content/b76d3414-4f11-4e46-9271-9309c06237df; “War in Ukraine Pushes Middle East and North Africa Deeper into Hunger as Food Prices Reach Alarming Highs,” WFP, March 31, 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/lebanon/war-ukraine-pushes-middle-east-and-north-africa-deeper-hunger-food-prices-reach.
- Abdi Latif Dahir, “War in Ukraine Compounds Hunger in East Africa,” New York Times, April 1, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/01/world/africa/food-crisis-africa-drought-ukraine.html.
- “USAID Provides Nearly $64 Million in Emergency Food Assistance for Vulnerable People Affected by the Crisis in Lebanon,” U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), March 23, 2022, https://www.usaid.gov/news-information/press-releases/mar-23-2022-usaid-provides-nearly-64-million-emergency-food-assistance.