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The fight for survival in northeast Syria


One of the effects of Russia's offensive in Ukraine is that Syrians have a harder time than usual putting food on their tables.

The Russian war against Ukraine indirectly impacts other countries.

In Syria, the conflict is producing an economic crisis and an increase in prices without precedent, including in the northwest, an area full of displaced persons camps.

The population of the country has more difficulties today to put food on their tables.

This is the case of Hamida Al-Hussein, 70 years old.

Al-Hussein lives in a tent, hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

She lives with her daughter-in-law and seven grandchildren in a random camp on the outskirts of Idlib, after they were forced to move from their village, Umm Al-Kanais, south of the city, three years ago, due to Russian bombardment that destroyed her house in 2019. Despite her advanced age, this woman struggles to ensure food for her grandchildren, who became the only family breadwinner after the death of their father.

The grandmother works hard on the farmland for six hours a day and earns a small salary of 15 Turkish lira, which is equivalent to less than one euro.


Syria is impoverished by a war that is not its own

Most of the displaced people in the camps resort to using firewood for cooking due to the very high prices of fuel, gas and electricity;

the cost of a bottle of gas is about 12 euros, which means that a woman has to work six days, 36 hours, just to buy a bottle of gasoline that she barely has enough for ten days.

And for Al-Hussein, such an expense is almost impossible to bear.

Suffering increases after the war in Ukraine

In northwestern Syria, which is controlled by the armed opposition, Islamic factions and Turkey, the war continues.

The Syrian regime and Russian warplanes regularly attack civilians.

This region is also experiencing high levels of inflation: in January this year, the price of 775 grams of bread reached five Turkish liras (30 euro cents), and by the end of March the quantity had decreased to 625 grams for the same price. .

According to Unicef ​​data, between February and March 2022, the food basket became almost 24% more expensive.

Now, the Russian war against Ukraine has caused inflation to rise even more.

Russia and Ukraine account for more than half of the world's supply of sunflower oil and about 30% of the world's wheat.

Meanwhile, Ukraine alone provided more than half of the UN World Food Program (WFP) wheat supply, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Food, fuel and fertilizer prices are rising and supply chains are being disrupted.

Before the war in Ukraine, half the population of northwestern Syria could not meet their daily bread needs.

“Conflict, climate shocks and the coronavirus, along with skyrocketing food and fuel prices, are causing more people to not know where their next meal will come from,” OCHA warns by email.

And it adds that 3.1 million people suffer from food insecurity and another million people are at risk of falling into this situation.

“Nearly a third of Syrian children suffer from chronic malnutrition.

The impact of the war in Ukraine on food prices is making the bad situation even worse”, confirmed Catherine Russell, Executive Director of Unicef, Catherine Russell, at the VI Brussels Conference on Syria.

More than 6.5 million children are in urgent need of assistance, the largest number in need since the conflict began in this country.

Northwest Syria is economically affected by the direct impact of the Turkish economy due to the circulation of its currency due to the loss of the Syrian pound against the US dollar, which reached the lowest level in its history last month (4,760 per dollar).

Also, due to the import of goods from Turkey, which began to "prevent the export of some basic materials due to shortages within the country itself, which directly affects people and societies," explains Jalal Bakkar, an expert in Turkish economics, in a telephone interview.

Northwest Syria is also experiencing high levels of inflation: in January this year, the price of 775 grams of bread reached five Turkish liras (30 euro cents), and by the end of March the quantity had decreased to 625 grams due to the same price.Omar Albam

OCHA warns of the rapid increase in the number of poor workers, which have doubled in the last year, with a daily salary of between 20 and 30 Turkish liras (1.25 and 1.9 euros).

This in the best of cases, because Al-Hussein receives just 15 for his hard work (90 euro cents).

Due to the few options, many people resort to mechanisms such as

"borrow money, sell your things or choose cheaper food, all of which increase the family's protection needs," they warn from this organization.

Since the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011, the economy has shrunk by more than 60%.

The reasons include a series of massive and successive crises caused by the widespread destruction of infrastructure as a result of hostilities, the interruption of trade, transport and production, loss of life and human capital.

These are some of the obstacles that hinder economic activities and increase poverty.

The collapsing economy has left millions of vulnerable Syrians struggling to survive in the war-torn country, where almost 90% of the population lives below the poverty line.

So much so that seven out of 10 people need assistance each month in northwestern Syria, according to OCHA.

The economist Bakkar hopes that there will be solutions through the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, and that humanitarian norms will manage to end the Russian war, and thus stop the economic exhaustion of peoples and individuals.

For its part, the OCHA office concludes: “The international community has not been able to stop the massacre in Syria, but it has managed to keep people alive by providing them with basic food, medical supplies and shelter.”

According to their data, 800 trucks cross the border every month and the Security Council annually renews its aid agreement, given that the need for cross-border aid deliveries to Syria is "more important today."

Spain has recently announced that it will contribute seven million euros to this humanitarian crisis.

But global funds for care are, year after year, insufficient.

UNICEF alone needs 312 million dollars (295 million euros) to respond to this emergency and an additional 20 million dollars (18 million euros) "urgently" just to continue its work in the northwest of the country.

"To date, we have received less than half of what we require to respond to the needs of Syrian children," they lament in a statement.

The tent in which Al-Hussein has lived for a long time has worn out and the woman complains: "No one has renovated it for me."

And like any other woman in the world, she dreams of leaving the tent and moving to a building to live in dignity and safety.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2022-05-15

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