ALEPPO, Syria, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Pervasive drought in northeastern Syria sparked the largest wave of internal displacement in the region in years, U.N. agricultural officials said.
Outdated irrigation systems and chronic drought pushes 1 million poverty-stricken farmers to look elsewhere for their livelihood, the U.N.'s humanitarian news agency IRIN reports.
"Farmers who depend on only one crop are in trouble," said Abdulla Bin Yehia, a representative of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Damascus. "They have nothing else to help them and they have to move."
Soaring costs of feed for cattle and other livestock is complicating the issue, prompting 50 percent of the population to leave for metropolitan areas.
Damascus, in coordination with the Swiss government and the United Nations, is moving on a $40 million project for drinking water while agricultural officials tabled a $476,000 drought-warning system.
Rainfall during the winter was greater than in previous years but FAO officials said it may be too early for optimism.
"If there is no more rain in the drought-affected areas within the next six to seven weeks then we may not have any crop," said the Bin Yehia.