Food, Water, Pharmaceutical Crisis Hits Damascus
The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, also known as the Caesar Act, has impacted a number of Syrian areas, especially Damascus. Ever since it went into effect, the Act resulted in a dip in the Syrian pound’s value and an increase in the prices of commodities, making living conditions harder.
This coincides with a pharmaceutical and water crisis hitting the war-ravaged country.
Caesar Act is a United States legislation that sanctions the Syrian regime, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, for war crimes against the Syrian population.
On Saturday, the Syrian pound dropped to 2,400 against the dollar, black market money exchangers told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The official rate fixed by the Central Bank of Syria remains at 700 Syrian pounds to the dollar for all transactions, except for basic imports, whereby the rate stands at 438 pounds to the dollar.
A pharmaceutical crisis has erupted in regime-controlled areas. Syrian MP Waddah Murad had warned on June 2 that pharmaceutical factories would shut down within a week after having run out of raw materials.
“The reason behind the crisis is the Central Bank’s failure to provide factory owners with dollars at a price of 438 pounds to purchase raw materials,” an employee of a pharmaceutical factory told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The employee noted that factory owners have incurred major losses due to the government keeping drug prices fixed at the official rate of 438 pounds to the dollar, while they have to resort to the black market to purchase dollars at a much higher rate.
As pharmacies in Damascus and surrounding neighborhoods began to shut down, many citizens were witnessed panic buying medicines from the few open drugstores left.
The depreciation of the Syrian pound was also accompanied by a 30%-40% increase in the prices of basic goods. This has led to the deterioration of living conditions for many Syrians. Reports and statistics show that more than 87% of Syrians are living under the poverty line.
Salaries of public sector employees remained the same despite the growing inflation.