Price hikes make life harder in Idlib
IDLIB, Syria – Idlib has seen a dramatic increase in food, commodity and fuel prices ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which has further increased the burden on civilians, especially the displaced. Living conditions in areas held by the Syrian opposition are deteriorating with a lack of employment opportunities and declining wage values as well as limited support from humanitarian organisations.
Prices of many types of vegetables, fruits, meat and staple foods have risen along with fuel.
Khaled Jaber lives in a displacement camp in northern Idlib with his family of six. He told Al-Monitor: “There are no job opportunities. People available in limited numbers pay a daily salary of 30 Turkish liras [$2], which is only enough for a few kilos of vegetables. I rely on monthly humanitarian aid to feed my family, and it’s never enough.
Jaber added: “I cannot buy meat, because the price per kilo has reached 100 Turkish liras. [$6.78]. It was 70 lira [$4.75] before Ramadan. I can’t even buy the drinks we usually have in Ramadan, like tamarind or licorice drinks. My psychological health is also deteriorating after being away from my home near Saraqib for almost three years. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and his government are responsible for this. »
Fatima Hajji, a widow with three children living in the Deir Hassan camps in rural Idlib, told Al-Monitor: “We have no gas and only use wood fires for cooking. She added, “Usually we serve several types of food for iftar, but considering the prices, I can only cook one dish.
Hajji explained, “For example, today I bought a kilo of eggplant for 25 lira [$1.70]a kilo of tomatoes for 20 lira [$1.36] and a kilo of potatoes for nine liras [$0.61]. This dish costs around 50 lira [$3.39] and that’s barely enough for my children and myself. But where are we supposed to get 50 lira for each meal? The government of salvation, affiliated with HTS, is responsible for this because it controls the area.
Sami Hamdan, a resident of Idlib activist, told Al-Monitor: “Many reasons led to the price increase, especially the economic crisis in the world and especially in Turkey. As Idlib is directly linked to its environment, it was immediately affected by price increases, especially during the pandemic. The maritime sector was strongly affected and the Russian-Ukrainian war was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
He added: “Idlib is a war zone and lacks resources. The power in place is not in a position to provide the slightest support in terms of basic materials, and everyone knows that agricultural land has considerably diminished following the bombardments of the Syrian regime and Russian forces. This overpopulated area has no natural resources such as oil or gas and the war has hampered tourism and industrial investment.
Hamdan noted, “In addition to all these factors, the Salvation Government has imposed ridiculous taxes and fees on imported goods, which has contributed to the rising prices in the region.”
He added: “Meanwhile, the government has decided to limit the trade of certain materials such as fuel and sugar to specific companies affiliated with it, which has undermined competition in the markets, which has had a negative effect on prices.
Hamdan continued: “The vast majority of the population in northern Syria is displaced. They own nothing; even their tents do not belong to them and they lost everything they had during the move. With the lack of employment opportunities, humanitarian aid has become the sole source of income for the majority of the population. However, sources of humanitarian aid began to dry up as the Syrian issue lost momentum in international forums as countries preoccupied themselves with more dangerous crises.
Hamdan pointed out that there is popular discontent against the Salvation Government. “People think the government is failing to control prices and mitigate the impact of economic crises.”
Hamdo al-Jassem, director of public relations at the Salvation Government’s Economy Ministry, told Al-Monitor: “Idlib’s markets depend on the import of vegetables and fruits from Turkey, and the growing demand led to price increases ahead of Ramadan. Supplies are low as most fruits and vegetables are out of season.
He added, “The government is tackling rising prices through a long-term strategy to reduce imports and maintain food security by achieving self-sufficiency and encouraging hydroponic agriculture and intensive cultivation, which mitigates the impact of the global market in the midst of the crisis. limited agricultural spaces in our areas.
Jassem continued, “The government is also carrying out an emergency response by monitoring market prices and inflation daily and preventing monopolies. During the first quarter of 2022, the government issued 1,190 fines for breaching the market. »