Syrians will face additional hardships due to Ukraine invasion, UN warns

Syrians will face additional hardships due to Ukraine invasion, UN warns
The chair of a UN Commission on Syria warned of skyrocketing inflation and called for a review of the impact of sanctions on Syria.
2 min read
20 March, 2022
More than 12 million Syrians are already food insecure, and food prices keep rising [Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty]

The Russian invasion of Ukraine will lead to additional hardships in Syria, a UN official has warned on Friday.

Paulo Pinheiro, who chairs an independent international Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, warned of the impact of the war in Ukraine on Syrians while presenting his commission's report to the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which is convening in Geneva until April 1st.

"Syrians will be confronting additional hardship as a result of the Ukraine crisis. Inflation is already skyrocketing," Pinheiro told the Human Rights Council.

"The government has begun rationing essential commodities, including fuel. Prices of imports have shot up and there are concerns in Syria as well elsewhere in the region about the availability of wheat to import."

March 15 marked the 11th year since the start of the Syrian revolution, a peaceful popular uprising that was brutally repressed by the Syrian regime led by President Bashar al-Assad, and descended into civil war.

After a decade of war, more than 90 percent of the population in Syria lives in poverty, over 12 million people are food insecure and an unprecedented 14.6 million are in need of humanitarian support.

On Thursday, Syria's Council of Ministers announced it would ration reserves of basic goods such as wheat, sugar and cooking oil in anticipation of supply shocks from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Syria, which is isolated from international markets by Western sanctions, is a major importer of Russian goods.

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The independent Commission of Inquiry headed by Pinheiro also called for a review of the impact of sanctions on Syria.

Western sanctions against the Assad regime were adopted in response to human rights violations committed by the regime and other parties to the conflict during the war.

Their aim was to cripple regime leadership and discourage businessmen and other countries from dealing with the Syrian government, but the sanctions have also had a punishing effect on people in Syria.

The "Caesar sanctions", adopted by the US in 2020, have precipitated the collapse of the Syrian pound and undermined the Syrian government's ability to import basic goods, which has aggravated pre-existing shortages of flour, fuel and staple goods.