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Syria mVAM Bulletin #62: December 2021

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Situation Overview

  • The fuel shortage crisis continued to worsen across Syria. On 11 December, the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection (MoITCP) increased the price of the subsidized 90-Octane gasoline sold through the electronic card by 47 percent, from SYP 750/litre to SYP 1,100/litre. This represented the third increase of the price of subsidized 90-Octane gasoline since January 2021. However, the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources indicated that the new price of gasoline was still less than half of the cost incurred by the Syrian Government. The MoITCP reported that the price increase was necessary to "reduce the huge losses in the national oil budget, to ensure the continued provision of the commodity, and to avoid a reduction in its availability". In line with the recent increases in the price of food and non-food items, on 15 December, President al-Assad of Syria issued two Legislative Decrees, increasing salaries for both civilian and military public-sector workers by 30 percent, and pensions for retirees by 25 percent, as well as increasing the general minimum wage for the private sector to 92,970 Syrian Pounds per month. This represented the second increase in the level of official salaries during 2021.

  • The general security situation remained volatile in December 2021. Intensified hostilities were reported in northwest Syria, with shelling largely concentrated in southern Idleb and northern Aleppo.
    In addition, the strong winds in December affected at least 105 internally displaced people’s camps across Idleb and northern Aleppo, with more than 1,484 tents reportedly damaged or destroyed.
    In northeast Syria, frequent clashes reported in Tell Tamer (Al-Hasakeh governorate) and Ain Issa (Ar-Raqqa governorate) have damaged the electricity network that feeds the electricity station in Tell Tamer. The ongoing spate of violence continued to impact humanitarian operations and aid workers across Syria, thus further hindering safe access to vulnerable people who are in urgent need of life-saving assistance. Approximately 39 aid workers were reportedly killed countrywide during the course of 2021.

  • On 28 December, several missiles targeted the container yard of Syria’s main port of Lattakia, causing huge explosions and igniting fires in several containers, resulting in material damage of petrol and spare parts for machines and cars. Additionally, Al-Nada Hospital and some buildings adjacent to Lattakia port were reportedly affected or partially damaged as a result of the attack. A similar attack was reported on 7 December, targeting the container terminal and causing explosions.

  • COVID-19 continued to spread across Syria. As of 31 December 2021, a total of 50,278 COVID-19 cases, including 2,897 fatalities, were confirmed by the Minister of Health in government-controlled areas. The monthly increase in COVID-19 cases in December (2,108 cases) signals a downward trend compared to November 2021 (5,024 cases). In opposition-held areas in northwest Syria, approximately 92,957 COVID-19 cases were reported by the end of December, an increase of 728 new cases compared to the previous month. In northeast Syria, the pandemic situation has reportedly deteriorated, and the lack of COVID-19 testing kits has pushed the central laboratory out of service from 10 November to 15 December. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Syria ranks among the worst COVID-19 affected countries in the Middle East and North Africa, resulting in additional strain on its over-stretched health care system nationwide. Simultaneously, as of 21 December 2021, a total of 781,603 people were reportedly fully vaccinated throughout the country, representing an increase of 42,393 vaccinated people compared to a month earlier. As a result, vaccination coverage stood at 3.6 percent of Syria’s total population (21.2 million people). Moreover, WHO indicated that the challenges in vaccination efforts have been further compounded in Syria by a lack of vaccine availability, imminent expiry dates of recently delivered vaccines and a lack of trained medical staff.