“Like nothing, we have seen”: Syrians fight to survive an unprecedented economic crisis
By: Ahmed Bayram, NRC’s Middle East,
Vulnerable Syrian families need urgent financial support to survive the country’s debilitating economic crisis, warns the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) ahead of the sixth Brussels pledging conference on Syria.
New findings released by NRC today show how families across Syria are struggling to cope as their incomes rapidly lose value in the face of spiralling price inflation. This has forced people to devise new survival strategies such as eating less, selling fuel aid to buy food, burning old shoes to keep warm, and skipping urgent medical procedures.
“Vulnerable Syrians face another decade of hardship, but the suffering can be stopped by international political will. While the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine continues to demand world attention, donors and governments meeting in Brussels must not forget about their commitment to Syria. The very survival of millions of vulnerable Syrians will depend on how much funding will be made available to meet their ongoing dire needs,” said Carsten Hansen, NRC’s Middle East Regional Director.
Among the over 400 people surveyed by NRC, only one in ten reported being able to meet the $206 USD needed each month to cover food, rent, education, and other essentials. Food tops the list of needs and is among the most rationed items for the majority of people separately interviewed by NRC in 2022, with 87 per cent saying they now have to skip meals to meet other living costs.
Rana*, who makes the equivalent of $10 USD from a week of babysitting in northern Syria, said, “We have to ration food when it comes to what and how much we are eating. We have replaced olive oil and rice with cheaper substitutes. Sometimes we have to cancel our power generator subscription because I cannot find the money. I would rather buy milk and diapers for the baby. I have one child left at school, but I know I might have to take him out soon. I can’t cope with the costs.”
The Ukraine crisis is deepening an already-chronic food insecurity crisis, affecting displaced Syrians inside the country and in neighbouring countries.
The living conditions are very hard, like nothing we have seen. 2,000 pounds used to buy the main essentials – now it doesn’t get you anything. 50,000 pounds, if you can find it, won’t even cover you for one day.” said Sahar*, a mother of six living in rural Damascus.
When asked about long-term solutions to get out of the crisis, Syrian families told NRC that they would like to see more jobs created and cash assistance provided, along with food aid to offset soaring food prices.
NRC is warning that Syria is falling down the priority list of international funding and diplomatic efforts. The organization is calling on donors to meet at the Brussels pledging conference to maintain existing humanitarian assistance levels for emergency responses, including cash-based aid. Donors should also increase funding for the restoration of public services and early recoveries in Syria, such as in the water, health, agriculture, and education sectors.