Syria mVAM Bulletin #48: September 2020

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1,387 Households surveyed

11% Female Headed Households

16% Stay as guest

27% Displaced Households

Situation Overview

• The economic situation in Syria continued to deteriorate in September, driven by acute fuel shortages across the country. This is largely believed to be related to the collapse of the Syrian pound and the imposed sanctions on Syria that reduces the ability of the country to import fuel, exacerbated by the regular maintenance at the largest Syrian oil refinery, the Baniyas refinery, which supplied two-thirds of the country’s gasoline needs. As a result of inadequate availability of fuel, Syrian authorities imposed further rationing of both subsidized and unsubsidized fuel: private vehicles were limited to fill 30 liters of gasoline every four days and the allocated purchase quantity of unsubsidized fuel reduced from 400 to 100 liters per month. This suggests further complications across Syria through increasing transportation costs, reducing commercial activities and fluctuations in food prices, highlighting eroding resilience of the population and people’s purchasing power.

• Meanwhile, the emerging shortage of bread in bakeries has also affected Syria in September, especially the southern governorates, largely due to wheat flour scarcity across the country, electricity cuts, as well as the ongoing fuel crisis. Syria is estimated to consume 3.7 million metric tons of wheat flour for national average food use, which is more than this year’s production by around one million metric ton; highlighting the need for significant imports to cover the essential national demand. In response, Syrian authorities implemented a new distribution mechanism for subsidized bread, with an allocation between one to four bread bundles per family, per day, depending on household size. Meaning people need to seek out alternative staples or purchase bread from more expensive private bakeries to meet their family’s bread needs.

• The COVID-19 crisis continues to surge considerably in Syria. As of 30 September 2020, around 4,200 COVID-19 cases were confirmed across the country; marking a 55 percent increase compared to the national rate of COVID-19 cases at the end of August. Furthermore, 90 percent of newly confirmed cases have not been traced to a known source, suggesting widespread community transmission. At the same time, the number of confirmed COVID-19 fatalities reached around 200 in September, representing almost a two-fold increase compared to the official announced death rate by the end of August. Infection rates among healthcare workers have been rising in Syria. As of 19 September 2020, around 143 healthcare workers were tested positive for COVID-19, which impacted the already overstretched Syrian healthcare system.

• Explosive hazards and tensions between non-state armed groups were observed in northwest Syria. Multiple airstrikes were reported in Idleb and northern Aleppo, resulting in more than 4,000 people to have been displaced from southern Idlib towards Afrin, Darkosh and Salqin.

• The majority of WFP assistance continues to be provided from within Syria, reaching around 4.8 million people in September 2020. Following the re-opening of schools across government-controlled areas on 13 September, WFP resumed its school feeding programme targeting more than 600,000 students across the country, initially reaching 22,300 students with daily fresh meals in Aleppo. Moreover, against the wheat flour backdrop, WFP launched a bakery rehabilitation project in Dar’a, to further provide fresh bread to 40,000 people.