Syria regime announces government holiday amid snowfall, lack of heating

Syria regime announces government holiday amid snowfall, lack of heating
The decision comes as snow has fallen in most provinces in Syria, causing road closures in places.
2 min read
Syrians living in tent camps have been seriously impacted [Muhammad Said/Anadolu Agency/Getty]

The Syrian regime on Saturday announced a holiday across all government departments from Sunday until Thursday as authorities struggle to provide sufficient heating amid snowy weather.

The regime revealed its decision, which comes amid a fuel crisis, on Facebook, The New Arab's Arabic sister service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, reported.

It justified its decision by saying it had to "make certain to take measures to ensure an appropriate response to the prevailing weather conditions".

The regime also said it must "provide the forms of energy that are available and allocate them towards serving citizens".

The decision comes as a snowstorm has seen snow fall in most Syrian provinces, causing road closures in places.

At least one child was killed in northern Syria this week when tented camps faced freezing temperatures and were blanketed in snow, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported earlier this week.

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The "Hiba" storm has hit Middle Eastern countries including neighbouring Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

The regime on Saturday requested its electricity ministry allocate the greatest possible amount of electricity to domestic consumption over the next 10 days.

It asked that cities and industrial areas be provided with electricity from 7am to 5pm during this period.

The Ministry of Local Administration and Environment and Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources have been asked to ensure 50 percent or more of each province's diesel allocations be used on heating over the same period, regime news agency SANA reported.

It follows protests over the country's electricity woes. Electricity rationing hours have been made harsher and fuel has become scarcer and more expensive.

In July, the regime increased the cost of subsidised diesel by around 178 percent, from 180 to 500 Syrian pounds (from $0.05 to $0.14).

Media activist Abu Yousef Jablawi, who is from Latakia province, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed electricity blackouts last 18 hours a day there, despite the great drop in temperatures.

He added that Latakia's electricity situation is so bad that the announced rationing hours do not apply there.

Some neighbourhoods are cut off for seven hours at a time, and then only get 10 or 15 minutes of usage.

Where malfunctions exist, whole areas can remain off the grid for days.

(The New Arab, Reuters)