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Syria facing worsening bread crisis as regime rations supplies

November 16, 2020 at 3:39 pm

International humanitarian aid trucks cross into Syria’s northwestern Idlib province through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, on September 7, 2020 [AAREF WATAD/AFP via Getty Images]

The production of bread throughout areas controlled by the Syrian regime has deteriorated to such an extent that a rationing system is being implemented and bakeries are being forced to close down after a few hours of service, a human rights outlet has reported.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Syrian authorities have reduced the supply of flour it allocates to bakeries in the areas under its control, particularly in Eastern Ghouta over the past week.

SOHR cited a female civilian it spoke to known as M.M. living in the capital Damascus, who said that while heading to a local bakery on the afternoon of last week Monday, “I saw nearly 500 people, mostly women, awaiting in long queues in order to get their bread allocations.”

She claimed that “Young people were trading swear words and fighting over priority to get bread, disregarding the women standing nearby. Meanwhile, women were talking about the deteriorating situations in Syria, as one of them said that if she could leave Syria, she would not stay for one more moment.”

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Her experience was not an easy one, as she reportedly “had to wait in the line for nearly four consecutive hours, but when my turn approached, a worker in the bakery said that the flour ran out and that we had to come in the following day.” In addition to those long waiting hours, she said that some civilians had taken to sleeping outside the bakeries in order to be able to get their share of bread.

The low supply of bread throughout territory under President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime comes in response to a record shortage of wheat being produced in the country, with images and footage having been released on social media showing Syrians lining up in cages to collect bread.

That shortage, which is accompanies by a shortage in fuel, has prompted the authorities to import large supplies of lower-quality wheat from Russia in order to make up for the loss. Late last month, Syria’s prime minister also announced that the country only has enough wheat to last for less than two months.

In efforts to overcome the shortage, the regime decided in September to take control of much of the production of bread and to subsidise it for civilians through the use of smart cards. With these cards, Syrians are reportedly able to collect a certain amount of bread depending on the number of family members who need feeding. This has been implemented in the provinces of Latakia, Damascus and Rif Dimashq.

Under that system, one pack is to be distributed for each family of one to two members, two packs for each family of three to four members, three packs for each family of five to six members, and four packs for each family of over six members. Civilians were reportedly allowed to collect that bread every two days.

Desperate Syrians run after bread truck as regime closes bakeries