Aid & Development

Soaring Prices Leave Destitute Syrians Weary as Ramadan Approaches

Syria

As the month of Ramadan approaches, Syrians back home are struggling to make ends meet given the declining living conditions in the war-ridden country.

With less than 30 days left until Muslims worldwide observe Ramadan, a holy month in which the religious fast from sunrise to sunset, Syrians back home are struggling to make ends meet with living conditions having been declining steadily for the majority in the war-ridden country.

Eight years into conflict, and still going, Syria has witnessed staggering inflation in commodity prices with as much as 12 increases being documented. Skyrocketed rates, a depreciating national currency, which plummeted from a pre-war exchange rate of 50 liras to 550 liras against the dollar, and stagnant wages exacerbated the plight of countless Syrians, with World Bank statistics showing that nearly 87 % of the population are living under the poverty line.

Food staples such as vegetables, fruits, and meat were overwhelmingly affected by the price increases. The economic and financial crisis in Syria has also had fallout on the country’s supply of gas and oil byproducts essential for domestic necessities, such as heating and electricity.

Abu Marwan, a Syrian senior, is spotted wearily staring at price tags at one of north Damascus’ vegetable markets.

“Fire..the world (prices) is on fire,” he says in a shrill scream that had by-walkers turn their heads around.

In Syria today, a kilogram of potatoes is selling at an average price of SYP 400, tomatoes at SYP 500, eggplants at SYP 600, green beans at SYP 1000, and garlic at SYP 2,000. The rates seem astronomical given that the average wage earned by Syrians remained fixed throughout the civil war.

“We are making due with eggs. Ramadan is around the corner, “Abu Marwan noted with desperation cracking through his voice.

Even though Syrians expected the 2019 spring solstice to lower the prices of seasonal produce, it had a contrary effect, leaving many at markets shocked by tripled rates.

This year’s Ramadan, which starts on May 5, is the eighth one Syrians have observed since their country descended into turmoil back in 2011. Ramadan’s traditional meals and rituals cherished by Damascus residents for centuries will likely remain on halt one more time as Syrians continue to suffer.

Mariam, a pseudonym for a Syrian housewife to a family of six, says that most families are “destitute.”

“Ramadan has become a burden to us. If the family during a normal month needs SYP 300,000 to get by, the budget is more than doubled during this month,” she tells Asharq Al-Awsat while noting that it will be difficult to explain to children why foods they see at markets aren’t available at home.

“We have forgotten how beef tastes,” a government employee, speaking under the condition of anonymity, tells Asharq Al-Awsat while recounting the suffering of Syrians.

“The government has left people to chance … they do not care if they do not eat at all … or, if they ate dust and stones!” the employee adds, demanding that the state increases the wages of public workers so it can meet the rising costs of living.

Image: Reuters

Article: Asharq al-Awsat