Cost of living crisis | Prohibitively high prices make essential products unaffordable for most Syrians • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Cost of living crisis | Prohibitively high prices make essential products unaffordable for most Syrians

Absurd war, faltering economy and extreme poverty force families to feed their babies water-diluted cow milk

Many bodies and organisations, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), have been all along warning against disastrous repercussions of the Syrian conflict and expected that Syria will be hit hard with successive crises, mainly a food crisis and inflation, especially with the destruction of factories, production establishments and farms, as well as the displacement of farmers, workers and craftsmen due to the devastating military battles and repression by the Syrian regime which is mainly blamed for the current catastrophic situation in Syria.


Syrian people and their livelihood are now threatened and may face unprecedented famine in the wake of scores of chronic crises manifested in the unemployment, cost of living crisis, displacement, homelessness.


Recently, Syria’s economy has been in freefall in light of the ongoing conflict with all of Syria’s resources being placed at the service of military operations. Accordingly, production has halted, impacting all segments of Syrian society, even the monthly salaries of government employees do not exceed 20 USD each, which is far below global standards.


Most of the Syrian people are forced to wait in long queues to get a few types of basic products in light of devastated industrial and agricultural sectors, as well as sanctions imposed by international powers on trade.


Furthermore, a real food crisis has been battering all Syrian areas, following the successive increases in the prices of basic products to a level unaffordable by the many, which has led to acute shortage of infant formula, bread, rice, sugar and medicines. While the international community seems indifferent and exerts no tangible efforts to reach a political settlement and put an end to the war.



Shortage of infant formula and other basic products


All areas across the entire Syrian geography, no matter which power dominates, have experienced acute shortage of infant formula following the rapid increase in its price which has reached 22,000 SYL per pack, equivalent to six USD. This forced some families to feed their babies water-diluted cow milk, amid expectations of imminent health issues because of the use this mixture which does not provide babies with needed essential nutritions. Moreover, this segment of Syrian society hardly obtains assistance provided by humanitarian organisations. It is worth noting that many children also die of infections, immunodeficiency and hunger in light of the poor healthcare and lack of assistance.


On the other hand, Syrian people have complained of astronomically inflated prices and acute shortage of basic products, especially rice and bread with a limited number of loaves being available to each civilian.


Meanwhile, the stall to provide some areas with various products, as a part of efforts by specific powers to exert pressure on the people of these areas and make them to bow to their presence and domination, as well as looting of humanitarian assistance by some other parties and selling it on black markets has worsened the situation further. SOHR has been warning all along against such practices, and has also warned against trading in the sufferings of Syrian people.


Not only has the war left a famine and malnutrition which has led to serious diseases, but also it left critical psychological issues, especially among children who have been strongly hit with deprivation, humiliation and extreme poverty since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, according to UN reports and statistics.


SOHR, as a human rights organisation, has been all along calling for reaching a political settlement which could potentially put an end to blatant violations against children and all segments of Syrian society. We, at SOHR, appeal to all relevant bodies all over the world to provide much needed humanitarian assistance and intensify their efforts to reach a political settlement in Syria.



Russian-Ukrainian conflict impacts Syrian crisis


The regime’s minister of economy, Mohamed Samer Al-Khalil, has commented on the crisis in Ukraine and its repercussions on the situation in Syria, where he stated that the Syrian economy has been affected by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, clarifying that there was no intention to raise the prices of the state-subsidised products in that time. This statement is completely divorced from reality on the ground, prices in all markets throughout Syria have increased to unprecedented levels, amid acute shortage of essential products.


Also, clothing and textile business is in recession due to the poor purchasing power in light of the increasing rate of unemployment and low salaries which are not enough for even securing food, as the country is in the midst of the most critical economic hardship ever, with the ongoing freefall of the Syrian currency against the US dollar.



Imminent revolution of the hungry


In an exclusive SOHR interview with the Secretary General of the Left Party, Abdullah Mohamed sees that the high prices of food and its shortage may lead to a real revolution of the hungry, especially after reports confirm that the wheat reserve in Syria is enough for no more than two months as Syria relies on wheat imported from Russia and Ukraine. He added that the Syrian regime called for the help of Omani authorities which sent seven trucks of wheat, but they could not meet the needs of Syrian people for more than a week. Mr. Abdullah also talked about the shortage of infant formula and corn oil as well as the prohibitively high prices of rice and potato, after the Syrian lira had hit a record low, reaching over 4,000 SYL against the US dollar, as well as power crisis and unaffordable prices of gas and fuel, clarifying that these chronic crises get the Syrian regime in trouble. The regime opponent said that the sources of grains in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration are not guaranteed, especially with the recent drought in that region and the domination on Syria’s economy by mafias.


Mr. Abdullah demanded the Syrian regime and all warring powers comply with the UN resolutions to reach a “transition commission” with full authority with the aim of lifting the sanctions which harmed Syrians civilians only. He added, “our people have had no options but to get rid of the Syrian regime and other influential powers and figures, including Al-Julani in Idlib and SDF in the Syrian Jazeera. We want a democratic free country believing in equality and providing decent standards of living for people. We have to get rid of the current dreadful situation, including the extreme poverty, killing, displacement. Meanwhile, our young men have been turned into mercenaries and sent to join fighting in Libya, Azerbaijan and now in Russia and Ukraine. On the other hand, the ‘Shabiha’ (regime loyalists who abuse power and conduct illegal actions for the benefit of the regime) further burdening the Syrian regime which has no capability to pay their salaries. The Syrian regime has facilitated procedures of recruitment of Syrians to fight alongside the Russian army at the same time when other Syrians are recruited to fight alongside the Ukrainian army.”



Political settlement: the only option to pass the crisis


Economy analysts see that the rehabilitation of Syria’s dilapidated economy needs courageous stances to contain the disaster by forcing all warring parties to comply with a political settlement, start the reconstruction of Syria, cancel the Legislative Decree NO. 3 issued last year, control the dealing in USD, put an end to practices by monopolists, greedy merchants and warlords affiliated to the Syrian regime or any other opposition body.


Experts also warn against reconstruction of the new economic system which will lead to the super-rich of cronies close to the ruling class and “Shabiha” at the expense of Syrian people who have already been grappling with hunger, displacement and poverty.