South Syria is reeling from unprecedented economic crisis that is making life untenable for a growing section of the population amid severe goods shortages and massive inflation rates. The regime slashed fuel allotments to the south in December, generating a fuel shortage that ultimately saw as much as 95% of public and private transit cease operations and more than 70% of schools close their doors as teachers and students alike were unable to even reach classrooms.
The fuel crisis is not unique to south Syria, but the area is home to some of Syria’s most vulnerable populations. The shortage caused a cascading series of failures for the south’s economy: business owners are unable to transport goods, residents are unable to leave their immediate area, workers and employees cannot work and the prices of all goods increased across the border due to higher shipping costs. At the crisis’ peak, as many as 50% of Daraa’s bakeries were unable to produce bread—a staple of the local diet—raising serious concerns about food security in the region.
By mid-January, the regime raised fuel allotments to Daraa, Quneitra and Suwayda provinces to approximately 75% of their pre-crisis levels. Although the increased availability of fuel has alleviated transportation issues and increased the availability of goods, serious challenges remain for local residents: the Syrian pound is at historically low value, remittances from Syrian expats abroad have dwindled and the economy is in a state of steady decay.