Exclusive report | Aleppo, the Syria’s economic capital: alarming escalation of unemployment, workers’ low wages, and stifling crises
Aleppo city, the Syria’s economic and commercial capital, has been greatly affected by the successive crises which have plagued the whole country, regime-controlled areas in particular, including the astronomically inflated prices of raw materials and essential products, power outages for long hours, currency plunge, wide prevalence of unemployment, and the low wages of workers.
In a testimony to SOHR, Abu Ayman who lives in Aleppo city talked about his inability to secure his needs because of the unaffordable prices of essentials. Abu Ayman said “my and my wife’s monthly salaries are not enough for even a week. I receive 62,000 SYL every month, while my wife gets 36,000 SYL. My family, me, my wife and our two daughters, are forced to give up many basic necessities in order to be able to pay for bread, gas and few essential products. My salary equals the price of only two kilos of meat. The people who are able to secure their basic livelihood are only those who have relatives living outside Syria and sending monthly financial aid to them. Those people are not affected by the increase and decrease in prices or the change in the Syrian pound’s exchange rate as the exchange rate of foreign currency is not changed.” Abu Ayman also talked about the problem of rationing of electricity which makes him shoulder more burdens, as electricity is available for only two hours a day, which forces many residents to buy extra amperes for lightening their houses at night. Such extra amperes cost 20,000 SYL a month.
M.A. a young man from Aleppo city complained to SOHR about the workers’ low wages in industrial workshops which have been kept open, despite the circumstances and consequences of war in Syria. The young man said “the monthly wages are never commensurate with the needed and basic necessities. I am paid 120,000 SYL a month (30 USD). Many industrial workshops in Aleppo city have been closed because of the astronomically inflated prices of raw materials, while the market of raw materials have been turned into a ‘black market’ as the prices of commodities always change because of the unstable exchange rate of the Syrian pound against foreign currency.”
Talking to SOHR about the fuel crisis and poor transportation services, G.N. a man from Aleppo city who is unable to secure fuel to his car said, “every day, I walk from my house in Al-Zabadiyah neighbourhood to my school, and if I want to travel in the city, I have to wait in the bus station for long time in order to go to the city centre, Directorate of Education or any other place. Because of the great congestion in public buses, I travel in Idlib city by taxi which costs me at least 1,500 SYL in every time, while my salary is 38,000 SYL (9.62 USD). My salary is not enough for me and my wife, so I work, after my day shift, with a friend in his clothes shop where I am paid 35,000 a month. Moreover, the rationing of electricity further burdened us, as I have to pay 5,000 every week for extra amperes which are enough for only lightening the house.”
It is worth noting that the residents of Aleppo city and its suburbs are struggling with the prevalence of garbage and frequent water cut-off in large number of the city’s neighbourhoods because of power outages in water stations, which force the residents to buy water from water trucks or “mobile water tanks” for nearly 2,000 SYL per tank.
We, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), renew our appeals to international organizations to help civilians in the regime-held areas, not to abandon their responsibility and obligations and find a lasting solution to the tragedy of the Syrians.