Syrian government raises state-subsidized sugar, rice prices by more than double on July 1

The Syrian’ government’s Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection issued a decision on July 1, 2020, more than doubling the prices of sugar and rice, which have respectively increased from 350 Syrian pounds per kilogram of sugar to 800 Syrian pounds (approximately 0.32 dollars) and from 400 Syrian pounds for a kilogram of rice to 900 Syrian pounds (approximately $ 0.36). These steep price rises were introduced under the pretext of keeping pace with the Central Bank’s new exchange rate for the US dollar, which has been set at 1,250 Syrian pounds.

The corporation earlier announced rationing of foodstuffs, with each family to receive no more than four kilograms of sugar and three kilograms of rice per month; these are distributed via the electronic ‘smart cards’ launched by the Syrian government, under the pretext of enabling citizens to purchase sugar, rice, heating material and cooking fuel in an organized and planned manner at state-subsidized prices

This rise comes while the average monthly income for a worker in Syria stands at 60,000 Syrian pounds (approximately US $19), with no corresponding increase in salaries.  These unprecedented rises in the prices of basic foodstuffs leads the Syrian Network for Human Rights to believe there are causes for concern over possible widespread and deliberately engineered famine and malnutrition among Syrians.

We emphasize that while the Syrian regime is increasing food prices and reducing availability of foodstuffs for Syrian citizens in the areas under its control, it is still spending millions of dollars every week on the expenses and salaries for its security bodies, which continue to practice arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and torture against citizens, along with additional expenditure, also totaling millions of dollars, on the ongoing military build-up surrounding the governorate of Idlib.

In reality, the ruling regime will remain wholly indifferent to the suffering of the Syrian people, even if obtaining staples such as rice and sugar become a dream for them. The international community must act to reduce the duration of this suffering by taking further effective political steps in order to help achieve an active political transition implemented according to a strict timetable by all parties toward democracy and human rights which can guarantee stability, the return of IDPs  and refugees, and the relaunching of the economy.