Regime-held areas | Rising thefts while authorities turn blind eye
Poverty, high prices and lack of job opportunities: major reasons behind rise of thefts’ rate
All areas under the control of the Syrian regime are experiencing an unprecedented rise in theft rates, in light of the country’s stifling ailing economy, exorbitant prices of basic commodities and lack of job opportunities.
Homes, shops, infrastructure, schools and farm fields have all become easy targets of thieves in light of the growing number of murders which claimed the lives of 12 people, including four children and four females, since early January, 2022, according to SOHR statistics.
Absence of security authorities and dare of thieves
The cruelty of thieves has reached unprecedented levels, as thefts happen almost in public with no forces being able to prevent them.
Sometimes, thieves enter houses to rob them in presence of inhabitants. Also, acts of robbery go up in the streets, especially of mobile phones. Moreover, thieves could stop any man or woman to steal their possessions at gunpoint in roadside streets.
Reliable sources in regime-held areas told SOHR that a large number of adult and young men has made a career of robbery, which is an alarming indication of the increasing rate of crime, amid almost-complete inaction by security authorities.
Worsening living conditions: basic reason for growing number of thefts
The worsening living conditions and tragic situation of the people in the country were behind the recent increasing rate of thefts. Of course, the dire living conditions in Syrian can not be an excuse for robberies, but it remains a major reason that could not be neglected. It has become difficult for the people to live on the current low wages that do not commensurate with the prices of needed essentials. Also the people suffer from lack of job opportunities and failure of government to find solutions to improve their living conditions.
On the contrary, the government places further burdens by raising the prices and allowing corruption to prevail in the state institutions. The Syrians who remains in the regime-held areas are divided into several segments; some individuals live on the remittances sent by their sons and relatives living abroad, governmental employees whose salaries are not enough for living and work for additional shifts, workers with salaries that are enough for only a few days, merchants benefiting from the ruling class and supported by officials and officers, and thieves to secure their living essentials.
SOHR statistics indicate to a growing rate of poverty to a frightening and unprecedented levels in the areas under the control of the regime which holds onto power and could not care less about the people of Syria.
Earlier in January, SOHR sources reported scenes of hundreds of Syrians queuing outside the “passports and immigration” headquarters become normal. But since early 2022, the number of Syrians seeking to obtain visas grew to unprecedented level in an attempt to register their names on a special platform to book a time to obtain visas and leave Syria under slogan of “hope is in travel,” which is contrary to the head of Syrian regime Bashar Al-Assad’s own words “hope is in work.”
Growing number of the Syrians aspiring to leave the country contradict with the state-run Syrian media and officials who promulgate restoring safety and security in the regime-held areas and repeated statements about the regime’s readiness to welcome the refugees’ return to Syria.
On the other hand, the regime exploits the situation and imposes additional fees via issuing passports through a premium and speedy service that could cost as much as 900 US dollars in addition to the originally 300 US dollar for the cost of obtaining the passport itself. However, the worsening living conditions force the Syrian people to stand in “long queues” to book an appointment to obtain passports.
Additionally, anyone who wants to obtain a passport will find themselves obligated to bribe the employees in the immigration department from the point of entering the building until obtaining the passport.
Consequently, Damascus International Airport witnesses daily large crowds wanting to depart while the arrivals are almost non- except for delegations coming from Iraq and Iran for pilgrimage and visiting the Shia religious shrines.
We, at SOHR, warn against an “immigration wave” of people wanting to leave Syria in light of Bashar Al-Assad and his regime stubbornness to rule and hold onto power, while regime-controlled areas have become a large prison amid lack of the simplest essentials and deteriorating living conditions. Meanwhile, most residents prefer to leave the country, but they could not afford the costs of such adventure.