Most Syrians now spend their days finding fuel to cook and heat their homes, as well as standing in long queues for a pie. The shortage of electricity is constant, with some areas receiving only a few hours of electricity a day, barely enough to keep people charged on their mobile phones.
Desperate women have started selling their hair to feed their families.
“I had to sell my hair or my body,” a mother of three recently said at a hair salon near Damascus, speaking on condition of anonymity, like others interviewed for the article, for fear of arrest.
With the $ 55 she received for her hair to make wigs, she bought two gallons of heating oil, clothes for her children and a roast chicken, the first her family had tried in three months.
Two days later she was crying with shame.
Falling currency means doctors are now earning the equivalent of less than $ 50 a month. The head of the doctors’ union recently said that many people go to work abroad, in Sudan and Somalia, among the few countries that allow Syrians to enter easily, but none of them has a strong economy. Other professionals earn much less.
“People are more concerned about food and fuel than anything else,” said a Damascus musician. “Everything is unusually expensive and people are terrified to open their mouths.”
The causes are numerous and overlap: widespread damage and displacement from the war; imposing Western sanctions on Mr Assad’s government and his aides; a bank collapse in neighboring Lebanon, where wealthy Syrians kept their money; and coronavirus control blockades.