Conflict in the Middle East forces people to flee, but so does drought, destroying crops and livelihoods. We must invest in science for sustainable agriculture

The humanitarian emergency caused by the migration crisis has shocked the world. Desperate scenes of refugees risking their lives at sea or sleeping rough in European train stations are inescapable. But we should also be aware of what has brought us to this point.

One of the drivers of this crisis was a five-year drought – the worst ever recorded in Syria – that began in the 2007-8 cropping season. Farmers lost livestock, crops withered, and children went hungry. Many decided to move to nearby cities, hoping for work but finding instead unhealthy living conditions, a lack of community support and few jobs. During the drought, the UN estimated that levels of youth unemployment in Syria reached as high as 48%.

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Source: Guardian Environment