Syria mVAM Bulletin #46: May, June and July 2020

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4,898 Households surveyed

12% Female Headed Households

18% Stay as guest

30% Displaced Households

Situation Overview

• On 17 June, additional sanctions were introduced on Syria. The intensification of unilateral coercive measures on Syria coincided with the Syrian pound deprecation which has led to unprecedented increases in food prices. In June 2020, food prices skyrocketed, increasing by 48 percent compared to May 2020 and were a staggering 240 percent higher year-on-year. Even though in July food prices stabilized and only increased by three percent compared to June, this nonetheless was still the highest recorded national average WFP reference food basket price in Syria since monitoring started (2013). Furthermore, the Lebanese financial crisis that intensified in October 2019 as well as the COVID-19 outbreak and its related governmental mitigation measures have also impacted the price of food in Syria. In July 2020, the national average food basket price had increased by 251 percent compared to July 2019 and by 117 percent compared to February 2020 (pre-COVID-19 outbreak) average prices.

• The monthly average informal exchange rate depreciated by 57 percent in June 2020 compared to May 2020 reaching SYP 2,500/USD. However, between June and July 2020, the Syrian pound strengthened by 10 percent on the informal exchange market reaching SYP 2,262/USD. Moreover, on 16 June 2020, the Syrian Central Bank officially devalued the Syrian pound to SYP 1,250/USD from SYP 700/USD. The UN rate was also increased to SYP 1,250/USD. This was the third devaluation of the Syrian pound since early November when the rate was SYP 434/USD. Spurred by the heavy devaluation and the decision of Syrian Central Bank to no longer provide USD to food traders for importing commodities from July 2020 onwards, trade from Lebanon and Jordan has been reduced and food prices as a result have risen, especially imported commodities. Moreover, due to the wide fluctuations on the informal SYP/USD exchange rate in June 2020, the Turkish Lira became an official currency in the opposition held cities of Syria. Additionally, the Kurdish Self Administration banned the sale of wheat grain to other actors across the country.

• As of 30 July 2020, around 738 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Syria, including 41 fatalities, with the first positive result recorded in Bab Al-Hawa (opposition-held area) on 9 July. This was 165 percent higher compared to the rate of COVID-19 cases in Syria at the end of June 2020. Southern Syria remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in June 2020 Syrian authorities announced that two towns (Jadidat Al-Fadl in Quneitra and Ras Al Ma’ara in Rural Damascus) were put under full lockdown.

• Increased hostilities in Idleb and northern Aleppo were reported in July, including shelling, airstrikes and IEDs (improvised explosive devises), resulting in population displacement from Jabel el-Zawiya (around 6,000 civilians reportedly fled the Jabel al-Zawiya area).

• Ahead of the 10 July expiration of the Security Council resolution authorizing the cross-border delivery of aid, WFP completed pre-positioning of more than two months worth of food stocks. Under the June general food assistance distribution cycle, WFP delivered food for 890,000 people across the northeastern governorates, one million people across the southern governorates and reached 1.3 million people in north-western Syria.