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Production decreases and prices increase… last bakery in Ar-Rastan neglected

Ovens in Homs - 24 November 2019 - (Syria Now)

Ovens in Homs - 24 November 2019 - (Syria Now)

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Enab Baladi – Homs countryside

Nearly two years have passed since the “reconciliation” agreement signed between the armed opposition factions and the Syrian regime forces. Still, the northern Homs countryside continues to suffer from poor governmental services, in light of repeated promises of improving the economic situation in the area.

Since the Syrian regime retook control over the area, the bread crisis has become almost a constant concern for the population. During the armed conflict in the region, the regime forces deliberately destroyed the essential services and infrastructure, especially bakeries in the city of Ar-Rastan, which used to supply the northern countryside of Homs with bread.

After the government of the regime took over the administration of the region, the need for maintenance workshops for the bakeries became fundamental. However, no severe solutions were offered on the horizon to repair the power generators of bakeries.

Production difficulties lead to increasing prices

In 2016, nearly two years before reaching the reconciliation agreement in May 2018, Ihsan Relief and Development re-assembled the remaining production lines. They moved them to a new building, in addition to equipping Ar-Rastan bakery with an electric generator and periodically maintaining all its parts.

After the regime took control of the area, the bakery started operating again when the bakeries directorate officially took it over. Without seeking to renew the place in any way, the bakery’s equipment has significantly become worn-out, leading to shutting it down for long periods. The most recent of these incidents took place 15 days ago. The incident resulted in increasing the price of one bundle of bread loaves from 50 to 125 Syrian Pounds, according to Enab Baladi.

Walid, a resident of the city of Ar-Rastan, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, complained about the deterioration of bakery products. He told Enab Baladi that this weak rate of production could deprive more than 100,000 people living in the area from getting a loaf of bread and potentially cause malnutrition, especially for children.

One of the workers in the bakery, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, told Enab Baladi‘s correspondent that there had been no essential maintenance work since the bakeries directorate in the Syrian regime government took over Ar-Rastan oven.

The worker added that the profits of the bakery have increased due to the high cost of the bundle of bread loaves. The generator that the organization worked to install remained out of service, until the leader of the Rapid Intervention Regiment, affiliated to the Iranian militia, intervened to provide a generator that breaks from time to time without directing any party to fix it.

Failed emergency procedures

As a step to manage the popular anger, the Syrian government transferred the financial allocations to al-Walid Bakeries in Homs Governorate. It distributed bread to the approved centers at a rate of one bundle for every four people.

Umm Anwar, a resident of Granada village in the city of Ar-Rastan who asked not to be named, said that the bakery company provided a good quality of bread. However, the bread loaves distributed in the distribution centers remain below the required quality, meaning that it is not suitable for human consumption.

On the other hand, the regime’s security checkpoints play a role in worsening the bread crisis, by preventing the passage of bread from the city to the countryside in Homs, which paves the way for merchants to exploit people.

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