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Fight for survival in northeast Syria

Latest NewsFight for survival in northeast Syria

Russia’s war against Ukraine indirectly affects other countries as well. In Syria, the conflict is leading to an economic crisis and unprecedented price increases, including in the northwest, where camps for displaced people are concentrated. It is more difficult for the population of the country to put food on the table today. This is the case of Hamida Al-Hussein, 70 years old.

Al-Hussein lives in a tent that is hot in summer and cold in winter. She lives with her sister-in-law and seven grandchildren in a random camp on the outskirts of Idlib after they were forced to move from their village of Umm al-Kanais south of the city three years ago due to Russian bombing. who destroyed her house in 2019. Despite her advanced age, this woman struggles to provide food for her grandchildren, who became the sole breadwinner of the family after the death of their father. Grandmother works hard on the farm for six hours a day and receives a small salary of 15 Turkish lira, which is equivalent to less than one euro.


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 gasoline is about 12 euros, which means that a woman has to work six days and 36 hours just to buy a bottle of gasoline that barely lasts ten days. And for Al-Hussein, such expenses are almost unbearable.

Suffering escalates after war in Ukraine

In the north-west of Syria, which is controlled by the armed opposition, Islamic groups and Turkey, the war continues. The Syrian regime and Russian warplanes regularly attack civilians. The region is also experiencing high 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 dropped to 625 grams at the same price. . According to Unicef, between February and March 2022, the grocery basket became more expensive by almost 24%. Now Russia’s war against Ukraine has driven inflation even higher.

Russia and Ukraine account for more than half of the world’s sunflower oil supplies and about 30% of the world’s wheat production. Meanwhile, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), only Ukraine provided more than half of the wheat supplies to the UN World Food Program (WFP). Food, fuel and fertilizer prices are rising and supply chains are being disrupted.

Before the war in Ukraine, half of the population of northwestern Syria could not meet their daily needs for bread. “Conflict, climate shocks and the coronavirus, as well as skyrocketing food and fuel prices, are leaving more and more people unsure where their next meal will come from,” OCHA warned via email. And he adds that 3.1 million people suffer from food insecurity and another million people are at risk of falling into this situation.

“Almost a third of Syrian children suffer from chronic malnutrition. The impact of the war in Ukraine on food prices is further exacerbating an already difficult situation,” Katherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF, Katherine Russell, confirmed at the VI Brussels Conference on Syria. More than 6.5 million children are in urgent need of assistance, the most since the beginning of the conflict in this country.

Northwest Syria has been 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 its lowest level in its history (4760 per dollar) last month. Also because of the import of goods from Turkey, which has become “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 on the Turkish economy, in a telephone interview article.

In northwestern Syria, inflation is also high: in January of 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 dropped to 625 grams due to the same price. .lobster albanian

OCHA warns of a rapid increase in the number of poor workers who have doubled over the past year, with daily wages ranging from 20 to 30 Turkish liras (1.25 and 1.9 euros). And this is at best, because Al-Hussein receives only 15 (90 euro cents) for his work. Due to the small number of options, many people resort to mechanisms such as “Borrowing money, selling your belongings, or choosing cheaper food all add to the protection needs of the family,” the organization warned.

Since the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011, the economy has shrunk by more than 60%. Causes include a series of massive and successive crises caused by widespread destruction of infrastructure as a result of hostilities, halt in trade, transport and production, loss of life and human capital. These are some of the obstacles that hinder economic activity and increase poverty. The collapse of the economy has left millions of vulnerable Syrians struggling to survive in a war-torn country where nearly 90% of the population lives below the poverty line. So much so that seven out of 10 people need help in northwest Syria every month, according to OCHA.

Economist Bakkar hopes that through negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, solutions will be found, and that humanitarian norms will succeed in ending the war with Russia and thereby stop the economic exhaustion of peoples and individuals. For its part, the OCHA office concludes: “The international community failed to stop the massacre in Syria, but it managed to keep people alive by providing them with basic food, medicine and shelter.” According to them, 800 trucks cross the border every month, and the Security Council annually extends its agreement on assistance, given that the need for cross-border aid supplies to Syria “is more important today.” Spain recently announced that it will contribute seven million euros to this humanitarian crisis. But global funds for care from year to year are not enough. UNICEF alone needs $312 million (€295 million) to respond to this emergency and an additional $20 million (€18 million) “urgently” just to continue its work in the northwest of the country. “To date, we have received less than half of what we need to meet the needs of Syrian children,” they lament in a statement.

The tent in which Al-Hussein lived for a long time has fallen into disrepair, and the woman complains: “Nobody repaired it for me.” And, like any other woman in the world, she dreams of leaving the tent and moving into a house to live in dignity and security.

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