Close to three million people are in need of food, crops and livestock assistance, according to a recent assessment carried out by the United Nations and the Syrian government. Of this number, around 1.5 million people need urgent and immediate food assistance over the next 3 to 6 months, especially in areas that have seen the greatest conflict and population displacement. Close to a million people need crop and livestock assistance such as seeds, food for animals, fuel and repair of irrigation pumps. Further scaling up of food and livelihoods assistance will be required over the next 12 months as the people needing nutritional support are expected to reach 3 million. The findings are based on a Joint Rapid Food Security Needs Assessment mission conducted in June 2012 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and Syria’s Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform. The joint mission’s final report says the Syrian agricultural sector has lost a total of $1.8 billion this year as a result of the on-going crisis. This includes losses and damages to crops, livestock and irrigation systems. Strategic crops, such as wheat and barley, have been badly affected as well as cherry and olive trees, and vegetable production. “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. Most of the vulnerable families the mission visited reported less income and more expenditure – their lives becoming more difficult by the day,” he said. The assessment reports that as many as three million people are in need of assistance over the next 12 months. Large numbers of rural people of the central, coastal, eastern, northeastern and southern governorates were found to have totally or partially lost their farming assets and livestock-based livelihoods and businesses due to the on-going political crisis and insecurity, coupled with a prolonged drought.