Syria mVAM Bulletin #61: November 2021


Situation Overview

• COVID-19 continued to spread across Syria. As of 30 November 2021, a total of 48,170 COVID-19 cases, including 2,749 fatalities, were confirmed by the Minister of Health in government-controlled areas. The monthly increase in COVID-19 cases in November (5,024 cases) signals a downward trend compared to October 2021 (8,941 cases); it however represents the third highest monthly caseload since the beginning of the pandemic. As a result, the occupancy rate of intensive care units in hospitals was high in most governorates, with COVID-19 centers reportedly at full capacity in Damascus, Rural Damascus, Tartous and As-Sweida. In opposition-held areas in northwest Syria, approximately 92,229 COVID-19 cases were reported by the end of November, an increase of 3,806 new cases compared to the previous month. The COVID-19 related mortality rate in opposition-held areas in northwest Syria has witnessed an increase of 409 fatalities compared to a month earlier, reaching a total of 2,253 COVID-19 fatalities as of November. This represents the third highest COVID-19 related mortality rate since the beginning of the pandemic. In northeast Syria, the lack of COVID-19 testing materials has pushed the central laboratory to be out of service since 10 of November. However, COVID-19 cases reportedly continued to surge across northeast Syria and the Kurdish authorities extended the imposed lockdown in Kurdish-controlled areas throughout most of November. Simultaneously, as of 28 November 2021, a total of 739,210 people were reportedly fully vaccinated nationwide, representing around 3.4 percent of Syria’s total population (21.7 million people) and an increase of 235,816 vaccinated people compared to a month earlier.

• The fuel shortage crisis continued to worsen across Syria. On 1 November, the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection (MoITCP) increased the price of domestic gas cylinders sold through the electronic card from SYP 4,200/10 kg to SYP 9,700/10 kg. The new price reportedly represents one-third of the cost incurred by the government. Also, the MoITCP increased the price of industrial butane gas cylinders distributed through the electronic card to SYP 40,000/16 kg. At the same time, electricity costs have been doubled for domestic use and nearly quadrupled for the agricultural sector. On 13 November, the MoITCP set the price of diesel and 90-octane gasoline which is distributed outside the allocations and through the electronic card, at SYP 1,700/L and SYP 2,500/L, respectively. Moreover, the crippling fuel shortage has had a negative knock-on effect on farmers, particularly on land preparation and irrigation, which will likely result in a spike of the overall agricultural production costs and increase of the selling price for most food commodities (FAO 2021).

• The general security situation remained volatile in November. Intensified hostilities were reported in northwest Syria, with shelling largely concentrated in southern Idleb and western Aleppo. In Dar’a governorate, the security situation has been stabile since the 6th September 2021 ceasefire and the majority of the 38,000 displaced people have reportedly returned to their homes, while an estimated 3,700 people continued to live with friends or family due to severe damage to their homes. In Dar’a Al-Balad, nearly 1,198 residential buildings have been reportedly damaged or destroyed, affecting approximately 18,000 people. On the other hand, on 15 November, the Syrian government launched the second round of the international Russian-backed conference talks in Damascus, aimed at finding ways to facilitate Syrian refugee returns to the country.

• In November 2021, WFP delivered general food assistance to approximately 5.5 million people across Syria in order to meet the growing humanitarian needs nationwide. Furthermore, on 29 November, Damascus hosted the fourth conference of the Arab Union of Arab cities and industrial zones, which was the first pan Arab economic conference to be held in Damascus since 2011. The conference aimed at encouraging Arab and foreign investors to invest in different economic projects in Arab cities.