Syrian economy in ten years | Great losses and catastrophic collapse, and Syrian civilians are the ultimate losers • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Syrian economy in ten years | Great losses and catastrophic collapse, and Syrian civilians are the ultimate losers

No one expected that Syria would face such a scale of collapse and devastation. But the reality is crueler than anyone could bear.

These disasters in Syria were summed up by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, on the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of the war: “Syrian crisis remains a living nightmare, with about 60 percent of its people at risk of starvation.”

Guterres explained that “It is impossible to fully fathom the extent of the devastation in Syria, but its people have endured some of the greatest crimes the world has witnessed this century. And the scale of the atrocities shocks the conscience”

After 10 years of war that destroyed everything, killed hundreds of thousands and displaced nearly half of the Syrian people, who took to the streets peacefully demanding their freedom and rights, the world stunned by the scale of the destruction that hit the Syrian economy in all its sectors and fields, where the reconstruction process requires hundreds of billions of dollars.

Observers say the calls of the regime, led by Bashar al-Assad, to begin reconstruction with the blessing of Iran and Russia are only a reward for the two countries for standing with the regime.

With 10 years of uprising against authoritarian rule, the Syrian civilians find themselves hungry, displaced and refugees. The painful irony is that Syria used to produce 80 percent of its food needs.

Economic analysts accuse the Assad regime of creating laws that have deepened the neoliberal orientation of its pre-war economic approach, creating a dangerous situation as wealth amassed by a few opportunists, which in turn exacerbated the people’s suffering and it was one of the reasons for the uprising in March 2011.

Syrian politicians, with whom SOHR had exclusive interviews, accuse the regime of impoverishing the people and creating an economic crisis to bring Syrians to their knees.

The costs of repairing the enormous economic damage will be as much as the extent of the devastation.

According to the United Nations, the total financial losses suffered by the Syrian economy after eight years of war were about $442 billion, and the same source noted that the oil sector alone suffered about $91.5 billion, as well as other sectors affected by damage and corruption.

The Syrian economy has inherited a number of orientations and choices that led to monopolize most of the sensitive sectors by the state, that have been riddled with corruption for decades, creating a difficult social situation. The events of 2011 have deepened the crisis through the destruction of cities.

The production was almost completely halted and hundreds of thousands were forced to leave industrial, agricultural and service production sites due to the shelling by regime forces. The situation has worsened with the militarization of the Revolution and the entry of extremist groups into many areas in the country.

 

Considerable economic losses

UN statistics are as follows:

– 80,000 oil barrels out of a total of 89,000 produced daily in 2020, extracted from areas outside Damascus’s control, compared to a daily production of 400 barrels before the conflict broke out.

– 98 per cent is the rate of deterioration of the exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the dollar on the black market during the last decade.

– 20 dollars is the average monthly salary of public sector employees in areas controlled by the Syrian government in early 2021, according to the exchange rate on the black market.

– 50 dollars is the average salary of employees in the private sector.

– 136$ is the cost of a basic food basket for a family of five for a month, according to the exchange rate on the black market.

–  Food prices have increased 33 times over in the country, compared to the average of five years before the war, according to the World Food Programme.

– The price of a bread pack of good quality has increased 60 times over in government-held areas since the outbreak of the conflict.

– 300 Syrian pounds is the price per egg currently in government-controlled areas, compared to three liras in 2011.

Foundations of the Syrian economy

Economists describe the situation in Syria as very bad, no matter how many parties seek to push the regime and its allies and the opposition to give priority to the poor living conditions of the Syrian people, and make mutual concessions to establish a new economic policy and develop an approach that will repair what has been ruined and corrupted for a decade, in the largest wars of the 21st century, following a peaceful popular uprising exploited by internal and external actors to create chaos and confusion and create a strong conflict that has not yet ended, despite all the UN efforts, conferences and resolutions that none of the warring parties have committed to.

Cries of alarms of an unprecedented humanitarian disaster have raised, as 12 million Syrians are in dire need of aid, while five million have fled to neighbouring countries and hundreds of thousands have been displaced to camps.

In the same context, the United Nations said the country’s poverty rate has risen by more than 90%, while observers say the biggest crisis facing the economy is addressing the stark disparity in the distribution of wealth and incomes.

Industrial sector

The war has destroyed most of the pillars and components of the Syrian economy, as hundreds of factories in Aleppo and elsewhere were looted, adversely affecting Syria’s civilian economy.

Small and medium-scale industries were also damaged, as most of them ceased operations and abandoned by their owners and workers as a result of the war, causing a shortage in the domestic market and worsening the living conditions, which have become extremely poor for millions of people.

The cessation of industrial production has deprived the country from large sources of income. Analysts say that the regime’s policies have also deliberately punished its opponents and destroyed any source of production that might fall under their hands.

The forms of destruction that hit the economy are numerous. Syria was the Arab Region’s largest producer of wheat, the world’s second in cotton production, and one of the most important centres of the textile industry. As well as the pharmaceutical industry, which covered 90% of the domestic need, these medicines were exported to more than 30 countries of global quality, according to the World Health Organization.

UN says that the economic cost of the war in Syria has reached $1.2 trillion.

On the other hand, the agricultural sector in Syria has been affected during the war due to the military operations, whether by the regime or armed groups, forcing tens of thousands of farmers to immigrate and leave their land.

Agricultural production costs have risen due to the shortage and high prices of fertilizers and pesticides, forcing many farmers to stop farming.

Frequent power outages have also hindered groundwater extraction, as farmers use pumps which are often powered by electricity and fuel, which has caused drought.

The disruption of tourism has also a direct impact on deepening the economic crisis, which has affected services, along with tens of thousands of producers of traditional industries, some of which have already disappeared and others are about to collapse

Meanwhile, most countries overlook the American forces’ presence in eastern Syria, which control the oil-rich areas. UN reports have confirmed that a quarter of the oil wealth is plundered by these forces.

The war in Syria has severely damaged infrastructure, drained the economy and its sectors, and caused extensive destruction to houses, public and private facilities, medical and educational facilities.

The Syrian economy continues to suffer due to the sanctions, most recently Caesar Act, which prohibits dealing with Syria in most sectors, causing a shortage of all supplies, as well as fuel, oil and gas. The sanctions also include a ban on dealing with the Central Bank of Syria and commercial banks, and long regulations of sanctions on companies and individuals. UN experts have said the method of sanctions imposed on many countries have had a direct adverse impact on people.

UN human rights expert Alena Douhan stressed the need to “remove unilateral sanctions”, as the people are the most affected.

“The conflict and violence have already had a dire impact on the ability of the Syrian people to realise their fundamental rights, having extensively damaged houses, medical units, schools, and other facilities,”

“The sanctions exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation in Syria,” she said.

 

Syrian pound’s plunge

According to SOHR statistics, the Syrian pound’s value continues plummeting against foreign currencies. In Damascus, the selling rate is 4,000 SYP and the buying rate is 3,950 SYP against the dollar, while 4,833 SYP for selling and 4,768 SYP for buying against the euro. In Idlib and Aleppo countryside, however, the selling rate is 540 SYP and the buying rate is 529 SYP against Turkish lira. On the other hand, the price of one gram of 21 carat gold has reached 194,000 SYP per gram in Damascus. This comes as calls for finding solutions to the extreme poverty in the Syrian provinces grow louder.

Accusations by UN

The United Nations accuses the regime of creating a legal policy that allows it to divert humanitarian aid to finance atrocities and crimes, to punish its opponents, and to reward supporters of such aid, especially its well-known allies.

The Syrian government was accused of “restricting relief organizations access to vulnerable communities, giving selective approvals to relief projects and imposing its terms to allow local actors associated with the security branches that commit violations to engage in such projects.”

The devastating war and the scorched-earth policy by the regime and its allies have destroyed the hopes and dreams of a people who peacefully demanded freedom and a decent living.

The tragedy in Syria continues as the war and the intransigence of the warring parties continue, and the suffering of people is still ignored. The Syrian people do not deserve such fate, which throughout their history have made great contributions to humanity.

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