Most Syrians now spend their days finding fuel to cook and heat their homes, and standing in long lines for a rationing pita. Persistent power shortages, with some areas receiving just a few hours of electricity each day, are scarce enough for people to charge their cell phones.
Desperate women have embraced selling their hair to feed their families.
“I had to sell my hair or body,” said a mother of three recently in a hairdressing room near Damascus, referring to an anonymous condition, as did others interviewed for this article. , for fear of being arrested.
Her husband, a carpenter, was ill and just temporarily employed, she said, and she needed heating oil for the house and winter coats for her children.
With the $ 55 she received for her hair, which will be used to make wigs, she bought two gallons of heating oil, clothes for her children and a roast chicken, the first one her family got a taste of in three months.
She cried out in embarrassment for two days afterwards.
The falling money means doctors are now earning the equivalent of less than $ 50 a month. The head of the doctors ’syndicate recently said many were going abroad for work, to Sudan and Somalia, among the rare countries that allow Syrians easy access but none of them have a strong economy. Other professionals earn much less.
“People’s concern, more than anything else, is food and fuel,” the Damascus musician said. “Everything is extremely expensive and people are afraid to open their mouths.”
The causes are multiple and interrelated: widespread damage and displacement from the war; sweeping sanctions west of Mr. al-Assad government and partners; a banking collapse in nearby Lebanon, where wealthy Syrians kept their money; and locks to fight the coronavirus.