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Syria’s Sweida Leads Economic Protests

Syria’s Sweida Leads Economic Protests

Thursday, 16 January, 2020 - 10:30
People gathering in protest of deteriorating economic conditions in Sweida (SANA)

Dozens of people from southern Syria’s Sweida governorate held the first ever protest against the country’s deteriorating economic conditions and the drop in the exchange rate of the Syrian pound, which reached an all-time low of about SYP1,100 compared to the US dollar.


The official Syrian News Agency (SANA) reported on Wednesday that a few people gathered in a square in the center of Sweida and started chanting: “We want to live. We want to live.”


Amjad al-Shoufi, one of the protesters, said living conditions are unbearable. He explained that salaries cover 10 days of expenses at best.


“What can we do? How can we support our families?” he wondered.


In remarks to the German News Agency (dpa), he said that the protesters demand holding accountable corrupt people, who have raised billions since the start of the Syrian war in 2011. Some of whom have transferred their money abroad, he said.


“People are now living below the poverty line,” said Shoufi.


The market is experiencing major recession due to inflation in all regions under the control of the Syrian government, the opposition and the Syrian Democratic Forces.


Most Syrians have lost their savings especially as the Syrian pound reached its lowest rate, which became 22 times its value since the beginning of the crisis entering its tenth year.


Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that dozens of residents protested in front of the governorate building in Sweida against the deteriorating living conditions and soaring prices in areas under regime control.


“This spike in goods and food prices coincides with a sharp fall in the exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the US dollar. In the past few days, the exchange rate of 1USD exceeded SYP1,000,” reported SOHR.


In a related development, dozens of demonstrators blocked the road to the square of Shahbaa town in Sweida’s countryside for the same reasons.


Local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that living conditions are deteriorating rapidly as a result of inflation, limited purchasing power, and lack of basic services such as electricity, heating fuel and gas.


Sources said a number of protesters went out for a sit-in near the governorate building to protest the officials' neglect of citizens.


They noted that living conditions are better in Damascus than other cities, saying regions outside the capital suffer from great injustice, mainly in electricity or fuel and gas distribution.


The local “Suwayda 24” news page also confirmed that protesters blocked the roads leading to the main square in downtown Shahbaa, protesting the Syrian government's neglect of its citizens.


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