Living Conditions & Austerity Measures
Facing reduced purchasing power, hyperinflation and subsidy cuts, international humanitarian agencies are describing the current conditions in Syria as the worst humanitarian situation in Syria since the beginning of the conflict, despite this being the period with the least active fighting. The World Food Program (WFP) has warned that approximately 60% of the population face food insecurity and hunger, and with the regime’s recent six-fold price increase of bread to 1200 SYP, this basic staple that families increasingly depend on is becoming unaffordable. The average cost of living for a Syrian family is now 600,000 SYP per month, in contrast with the average monthly public employee salary of just 90,000 SYP ($25 USD), forcing many families rely on remittances to make ends meet.
In addition, deteriorating public services, fuel and electricity shortages and unemployment, have also contributed to growing grievances against the regime, even in areas that are considered regime strongholds. There is frequent criticism of regime officials on social media, but protests have been almost non-existent in regime strongholds. In areas such as south Syria, where the regime’s hold on power is tenuous, there have been regular protests against deteriorating living conditions and regime violence, along with a rising number of assassinations targeting money exchangers in 2021. Steadily worsening economic hardship is manifesting itself through a sharp uptick in crime, with reported rates of theft and murder surging around the Damascus countryside, in cities on the Syrian coast, and in Homs.
The economic collapse has had a particularly devastating impact on Syrian women, as families are resorting to negative coping strategies, such as skipping meals or eating less, to survive. Increasing numbers of women are being pushed into the informal economy to help their families make ends meet, and even women who are seeking employment in the formal sector face increasing sexual harassment. Many women have been forced to leave school due to unaffordable fees and transportation costs, and gender-based violence is rising as male family members are spending more time in the home due to unemployment.