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      800,000 Refugees in Syria Drought

      A four year drought in northeastern Syria has driven hundreds of thousands of farmers into refugee camps.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 8/29/2010, 9:46 PM / Last Update: 8/30/2010, 9:09 AM

      Flash 90

      A harsh four year drought, along with poor national infrastructures, has driven hundreds of thousands of Syrian farmers off their land in the country's northeastern section. The land where wheat grew abundantly is dry, and provides no sustenance.

      The United Nations estimates that 800,000 people had to leave their homes. Most relocated to camps at the entrance to cities, and have no access to electricity or running water. The residents complain that there are no schools, either, in the camps, and that many of the children have to work to sustain their families.

      Those who remain in the villages sell their belongings for food and require aid from the UN and the Syrian government. The World Food Program (WFP) has begun distributing food to more than 200,000 people who stayed on the farms, and the  Red Cross is funding delivery of water to them.

      "We don't want to provide assistance to these people where they are now, and create a dependency syndrome," says Muhannad Hani, WFP country manager, regarding the refugees who reached the camps. "Those people are farmers,” he told the BBC. “We're working in partnership with the government to make sure that those people return to that place and resume what they've been doing for decades and centuries," he said.