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In Syria, Bread Is More Important Than COVID-19

In Syria, Bread Is More Important Than COVID-19

Wednesday, 8 April, 2020 - 12:45
FILE PHOTO: An internally displaced Syrian girl inspects outside from a broken window of a van in an IDP camp near Idlib, Syria February 27, 2020. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File photo
Damascus - Asharq Al-Awsat

Whoever wanders the streets of Damascus during daytime shopping hours would not believe that the city is under curfew to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. People are in a race against time to purchase their needs.

The daily scene on the streets of the Syrian capital comes in contradiction with all recommendations issued by state media and road billboards.

Fear of the epidemic comes in the second place, as the people, 80 percent of whom live below poverty line, rush to secure their essential needs.

Congestion is terrible near cars distributing government-subsidized bread. It is not surprising to hear a citizen in the heart of traffic saying: “A loaf of bread is more important than coronavirus.”

Another one comments: “We have been playing with death for nine years. The virus will not kill us.”

Whether in areas controlled by the opposition or the government, the past nine years did not have an impact like that of the epidemic.

A sort of life existed under the barrels, the raids and the missiles. But the fear from the virus imposed restrictions and curfews in three Syrian region under the control of the government, the opposition and the Kurdish forces.

The degrees of anxiety and panic vary, but the need is the same…

In the vegetable markets, you often see people looking in the street corners for leftovers or rejoicing when they win an egg, a loaf, or some cucumbers. In such a situation, talking about home isolation or social distancing seems a luxury or a detail that is non-existent at the heart of queues.

With the start of the evening curfew hours, a sudden silence prevails.

People experience another suffering in their homes, such as the scarcity of household gas, the long interruption of electricity and poor internet services that hinder the ability to communicate online, which has become their only source of breath.

At that time, sleep seems to be the only refuge for Syrians to escape from their sorrows…

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