Sheep die of starvation in Syria

Around ten sheep eat, tents in background, animal news
Sheep graze near tents in northern Aleppo countryside, Syria, April 29, 202, credit: Reuters/Mahmoud Hassano

Sheep in Syria’s Aleppo are dying of starvation because farmers can’t afford to buy them food. Sheep herders depend on imported fodder from Turkey, but prices have skyrocketed since the Russia-Ukraine war. The price of a tonne of hay increased from $300 before the Russia-Ukraine to $500.

Countries with already damaged economies suffer the economic supply chain problems of the war the most. “The war between Russia and Ukraine negatively impacted imports of fodder, hay and wheat,” Dadi Ahmad, head of the agricultural office at Azaz city, said.

“Many herders are suffering and were forced to sell half of their livestock to buy fodder to sustain the other half,” Ahmad said, adding that farmers were already suffering from decreased rainfall and drought in northern Syria. With little natural grazing areas left, animals have incredibly low chances of surviving on their own.

The dozens of sheep grazing around tents in Aleppo are just a fraction of the herd that sheep herder Abu Jouma once had. “We were happy with our sheep, but when they got hungry, we started selling them,” Jouma said.

“A lot [of the sheep] died when it snowed. [The sheep died] out of hunger. We took the sheep to market and couldn’t sell them. We’d buy fodder, and it still wouldn’t sell, we ran out of money, and they died,” he added.

Hassan Abdullah, supervisor at a farm animal market, said trade in farm animals is currently very low: “There is no selling and buying at all. Herders come here to spend time only. They come and go with their cars and spend money on gas for nothing. They don’t sell [animals] at all.”

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