Bread crisis in regime-held areas | Queues of humiliation, oppression and harassment… Favouritism and government's decisions worsens the situation • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Bread crisis in regime-held areas | Queues of humiliation, oppression and harassment… Favouritism and government’s decisions worsens the situation

The Syrian regime-held areas are witnessing a continuous and escalating bread crisis, like the other chronic crises, notably the fuel crisis.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has monitored and tracked, through its activists, the bread crisis and the long queues forming by ordinary people trying to get bread, relying on testimonies of people in the capital Damascus and its countryside.

A young man known by his initials as (A.K.) from the Syrian capital Damascus, speaks to the Syrian Observatory about his suffering and testimony while queuing outside a bakery to get a bread pack for his family in the capital Damascus: “I saw elderly women and men sitting on the floor waiting for their turn in a long line to get a bread pack, and I, like them, had to wait for two hours and saw security agents jumping the queue every minute and pass by, ignoring the tired elderly, taking large quantities of bread. And no one could even say a word to them.” At the end of his testimony the man described the situation and the queuing for long hours as “a life of oppression and humiliation.”

And it is not about just queuing and waiting for long hours, but about fights erupting between men and harassment of women outside bread bakeries. A lady known by her initials as (M.N.) from eastern Ghouta, a mother of three orphaned children and deceased husband killed in August 2016 by a regime airstrike on eastern Ghouta, told SOHR: “I go to the bread lines (queues) every four days a week, I stand and watch the fight between men every time, I hear obscene language, and sometimes I endure verbal and physical harassment by some people, as the waiting lines of men and women are next to each other. Every time some men fight each other, there is a chaos and some pervert men enter the women’s queue to harass them. The lady added that she was forced to endure what she called “humiliation” in order to get bread for her children because she cannot afford to buy “unsubsidized bread”, which is priced at 1200 Syrian pounds per pack. She ended her testimony by saying “I hope I can migrate out of this country in which we are living in humiliation and oppression.”

Ironically, the Syrian regime authorities did not stand by idly, as the regime’s government raised the price of subsidized flour provided to bakeries, despite the small quantities of flour provided to those bakeries.

On October 29, the Syrian regime’s “Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection” has issued several decisions today, raising the price of the state-subsidized flour to 40,000 SYL per ton.

The new decisions also reset the price of a kilogram of state-subsidized bread, without a bag, at 75 SYL, and doubled the price of bread packed in plastic bags to 100 SYL per pack. It is worth noting that a pack of bread had been previously sold for 50 SYL.

These decisions come in the wake of the economic siege and sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime and the low domestic production of wheat. In addition, regime-controlled areas are suffering from wheat shortage, amid high production and transportation costs.

On October 19, SOHR activists said that areas under the control of the Syrian regime in all the Syrian provinces were still experiencing an escalating bread crisis, without any measures taken that may resolve the crisis. However, the crisis been deepening day after day for quite some time, despite the repeated promises by the Syrian regime authorities to finding solutions to the crisis.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has monitored the public’s anger, while people are waiting for long periods of time for up to five hours straight in long lines outside bakeries trying to get hold of only one pack of bread.

In addition to the escalation of quarrels between the people during the waiting periods and fistfights between them outside some bakeries.

The residents described the daily suffering they go through outside “al-Sheikh Saad” bakery in the Damascene neighbourhood of al-Mazzeh, in these terms: “I should wait for hours for getting only one bread pack! This is a shame – The price of one pack of bread is 1000 lira; who can afford to pay for it? –  women leave their children at homes and come to wait in bread lines for 5 hours, for God’s sake, give us a solution, – we want the officials to find a solution to this humiliation – we are suffering and what can we do with a single pack for five people? That is not living.”

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