Fighting, political debate, and refugee crisis make the headlines and top stories everywhere, but very few concern themselves with details of daily life, details that have burdened the lives of Syrians inside Syria for over half a decade. Financial and economic problems are on the top of daily issues that torments Syrians today.
Money transfer inside-outside Syria
Many Syrian families have been shattered inside and outside Syria and those working anywhere need to send support to other families inside Syria. Almost 6 years of war have damaged the financial sector severely and limited the number of money transfer offices in the country.
Few money transfer offices are still available inside Syria but they mainly operate in relatively safe areas controlled by the government. These companies were repeatedly attacked to steal money and take employees as hostages to demand ransom. If not, they were closed due to sanctions, like western union for instance, that operates now through agents like Al Haram, and Al Foad.
Now as Muslim Syrians prepare for the coming religious occasion of Eid Al-Adha, transfer from abroad increases remarkably. Visit any money transfer office and you will see people lining up waiting their turn. This could take you the whole day of working hours and still you would not be able to get a thing; many people even take a day off from their work. Another problem is that due to the huge pressure on such occasions and the limited numbers of working offices, many offices have announced that they will stop working.
The dependence on external transfer increased as many families lost their paterfamilias. With lack of work oppertunities and daily basic needs required, any little amount from the relatives abroad could be of great benefit. So whether families live in crowded city centers or rural areas, whether lucky to afford daily-life expenses or not, money transfers are needed.
“Crisis-merchants” seize wartime to sell bad quality products with high prices.
Crisis-merchant, a new term which appeared in early days of Syria’s war back in 2011.
Referring to category of traders who seize any little gap in market or laws to make huge profits ignoring people’s suffering, basically, using lower-quality products and materials which are prohibited by the law. Many cases reported in Syrian cities where investigations revealed using illegal, expired, or even off-specification material. There are now huge networks for smuggling those products from neighboring countries or producing them locally locally.
“Bad and expensive”, is what describes the products in many markets and shops in Syria but the consumer with limited income sources is left most of the time without options to choose from, especially when it comes to children’s study and health expenses. Rise in prices is up to dollar’s exchange rate but decreasing them is up to the merchant’s mood, who always asking for more. So prices are not fixed, they are in an instant state of rising; a product that was for 500 Syrian Pounds would rise up to 600 easily in one week or even more sometimes.
Syrian citizens are always reminded to register a compliant when detecting illegal prices or materials, but few only are aware of the importance of such complaints in reducing number of breaches. The starting point is that every citizen should be aware of his role in controlling the market. If you make an official complaint, and your neighbor makes another one, and a third and a fourth people do the same, pressure on those merchants will be stronger and we might make the change we are looking for.