Citizens throng in front of a bakery in Damascus amid COVID-19 pandemic while ruling regime is wholly indifferent to the people’s suffering even if they go hungry

This photo, which shows large numbers of Syrian citizens queuing at night in cold weather conditions in front of al Sheikh Saed Bakery in al Mazza neighborhood in Damascus city, was shared online by pro- Syrian regime accounts on November 12, 2020. As can be seen, the citizens queueing for bread are ignoring the importance of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, violating all the precautionary measures introduced to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic among the public.

SNHR notes that the Syrian regime’s Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection introduced a new initiative on September 8, 2020, to distribute bread to Syrian families using smart cards under the pretext of reducing the size of the crowds gathering in front of bakeries and enabling citizens to purchase bread in an organized and planned manner with only four loaves of bread per a day for every family.

We can affirm that even while the Syrian regime continues to impose restrictions on the Syrian people in areas under its control, it still spends millions of dollars on its own expenses and on security services and the salaries of related personnel, despite their continuing practice of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and torture, with millions dollars more dollars being spent on the ongoing military build-up around Idlib governorate.

In reality, the ruling regime is and will remain wholly indifferent to the suffering of the Syrian people. 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 which must not exceed six months by all parties in order to progress toward democracy and human rights which can guarantee stability, the return of IDPs and refugees, and the relaunching of the economy.