Syria

Syria mVAM Bulletin #59: September 2021

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Assessment
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Situation Overview

• In September, COVID-19 cases continued to spread across Syria at an alarming rate. As of 30 September 2021, a total of 34,205 COVID-19 cases, including 2,247 fatalities, were confirmed by the Minister of Health in government-controlled areas. The monthly increase in COVID-19 cases in September (6,290 cases) signals a dramatic upward trend compared to August 2021 (1,952 cases) and represents the highest monthly caseload since the beginning of the pandemic. Nevertheless, schools were re-opened in early September and around 150 COVID-19 cases were recorded during the first two weeks of the scholastic year. In September 2021, around 28,073 COVID-19 cases were reported across northeast Syria, an increase of 7,462 new cases compared to the previous month, representing the highest monthly caseload since the start of the pandemic. In response, the Kurdish authorities imposed a lockdown in Kurdish-controlled areas across northeast Syria in late September. In opposition-held areas in northwest Syria, the epidemiological situation has also deteriorated. Approximately 73,455 COVID-19 cases were reported in northwest Syria by the end of September, an increase of 34,184 new cases compared to the previous month and representing the highest monthly caseload since the start of the pandemic. As a result, hospital intensive care units were full and COVID-19 centers reported an over 95 percent occupancy rate in northwest Syria. These findings generally highlight grave concerns nationwide on the spread of the virus especially as colder winter months approach. Simultaneously, as of 22 September 2021, around 448,399 people were vaccinated in government-controlled areas and northeast Syria, in addition to 119,158 people across northwest Syria. As a result, vaccination coverage stood at three percent of Syria’s total population (21.2 million people).

• The general security situation remained volatile in September. Intensified hostilities were reported in northwest Syria, with shelling largely concentrated in southern Idleb and northern Aleppo. On 14 September, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria indicated that “the Syrian Arab Republic does not yet offer a safe and stable environment for sustainable and dignified returns of refugees, nor for the 6.7 million displaced persons inside the country”. Furthermore, in the light of the economic crisis, food insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission recommended to remove all obstacles to humanitarian aid, including those unintentionally caused by the sanctions. In southern Syria, the security situation in Dar’a Al-Balad (in Dar’a governorate) has reportedly stabilized, following the 9 September ceasefire agreement between the Government of Syria and the Dar’a Central Committee. As of 21 September 2021, approximately 28,000 of the 36,000 IDPs from Dar’a Al-Balad and other areas returned to their homestead. Moreover, on 6 September, Sijneh and Saraya crossing points, main humanitarian corridors between Dar’a Al Balad and Dar’a city, were reportedly re-opened. Moreover, the Dar’a al Balad and Tishreen bakeries have also resumed operations after two months of being closed due to the tense situation in Dar’a.

• On 8 September 2021, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon set a roadmap to deliver Egyptian gas to Lebanon through the Arab Gas Pipeline, which is set to pass through Jordan and Syria. On 11 September 2021, the Syrian Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources announced that Syria would obtain quantities of gas in exchange for allowing passage of the gas through its country, hereby benefitting Syria in increased electric power generation. On 16 September 2021, the Syrian Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade stated that as of July 2021, Syria’s monthly exports amounted to approximately 57 million Euros, representing an increase of five million Euros compared to the same period in the previous year.

• In September 2021, WFP delivered general food assistance to approximately 4.7 million people across Syria in order to meet the growing humanitarian needs nationwide. Moreover, WFP dispatched food rations to 172,825 people in Dar’a governorate, including 36,325 returnees to Dar’a Al-Balad. Tishreen Bakery and the Dar’a Al-Balad Bakery, which benefitted from WFP rehabilitation, both of which have resumed operations on 13 September.