Syria: Crippled by an economic crisis

The events unfolding in Syria currently are leading to an economic crisis.

At least one million Syrians are in immediate need of food aid, facing the choice between starvation or emigration, a UN official has warned recently.

"We've got people on the brink of starvation now, and they can't wait. People will die, and people are dying as we speak," David Beasley, head of the UN World Food Programme said, ahead of a donor conference in Brussels, 30 June.

He called the events unfolding in Syria “unprecedented”. “It's the worst of all storms coming together," he said and warned that if nothing is done, the world might see another mass exodus of Syrians as in 2015.

"If we don't have the money, here's the bottom line: you're going to either have mass migration, [or] starvation, and exploitation by extremist groups," he said.

Local sources told Open Doors that the consequences of the economic crisis may include an increase in child labour, begging, crime, disintegration of families, and exploitation of women.

 

Limited resources

The war has displaced half of Syria’s population, some 13.2 million people. While roughly half of them (6.6 million) sought refuge in other parts of the world, the other half stayed.

 

Open Doors, through its local partners, has been able to support families in Syria with the distribution of basic food items, but new sanctions imposed by the US earlier this month have made this much more difficult.

Within a few weeks, the cost of food and other necessities almost doubled. Those who bought 1 kilogram of chicken meat one month ago paid SYP 3,000 (US$ 5.84). Today it will cost them SYP 4,500 (US$8.76). Last month a small bottle of soap would sell for SYP500 but today costs SYP1200.

 

Meanwhile, the average salary of a civil servant is around SYP 50,000 a month (just under US$100) while the majority of people who work as day labourers earn even less.

“The inflation has affected the help churches can offer”, said Barkev Abajian, one of the managers of the Good Shepherd Center of the Alliance Church in the northern city of Aleppo. He also said they are finding it difficult to include some items in the emergency aid food package that their church prepares to give out to their community.

The team feels helpless in the face of the needs around them. “We would like to help all who are in need, but we are unable to do that because we have limited resources,” Mr. Abajian said. “The abnormal increase in the prices didn’t even allow us to continue with the same level of help as we were used to.”

 

Please pray:

For peace and stability to return to the region.

 

Pray for our partners who are carrying out the important work of being the hands and feet of Jesus, for protection and provision.

 

Pray for urgent humanitarian aid to reach our brothers and sisters in need in Syria.

 

Flexible funding

Through its advocacy work, Open Doors seeks to encourage humanitarian donors and actors to streamline the allocation of humanitarian funds to qualified and trusted local faith actors (LFAs) in Iraq and Syria.

LFAs, such as the Good Shepherd Center in Aleppo, Syria, have a competitive advantage of providing humanitarian and development assistance to affected communities.

They have

1) Served often as the first responders, having provided humanitarian assistance and social services for centuries;

2) Great logistical access;

3) The ability to affect social change and act as interlocutors in their communities; and

4) Are credible and trusted partners in their communities. They have proven over the last two decades to be irreplaceable and invaluable partners.

Help provide relief

Christians around the world—in places like Syria especially are desperate for help in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. With the help of our partners, we are helping provide additional emergency food kits to help thousands of Christians. You can help bring this vital aid today. 

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