Syria’s children deprived of Eid clothes
For days, the 39-year-old Hiyam Medawar has been satisfied with wandering around the clothing markets in the city of Idlib, northern Syria, looking sadly, and then returning home empty-handed after being unable to find clothes for her four children at prices that fit her modest budget.
In an interview with Enab Baladi, the housewife and mother of four children said that she had intended to buy a piece of clothing for each child “in the hope that it would add joy to the hearts of her children,” but the prices of clothes this year are very exorbitant and significantly higher than in previous years, in a manner that does not allow people to buy it.
Hiyam’s husband works in a restaurant in the area and has been trying for several months to raise a certain amount to buy Eid clothes for his children, but the unexpected high price has changed the family’s plans.
Enab Baladi monitored a state of stagnation in the markets in northwestern Syria and a reluctance to buy clothes before Eid al-Fitr as a result of the unprecedented rise in prices.
$40 Eid clothing for each child
The blacksmith Jaber al-Eid, 46, and breadwinner for a family of five children told Enab Baladi that after wandering for hours in clothing stores, he could not buy any new clothes for his children because of the high prices.
The cost of clothing for a child from simple clothes this year is $35 to $40, with an increased rate of 30% compared to 2022, he said, adding that according to these prices, he needs about $150 to $200 to clothe his five children, which he cannot afford.
A number of clothing merchants in the city of Idlib, interviewed by Enab Baladi, attributed the increase in their prices to an international rise in cloth prices and the rise in shipping costs.
Many garment factories and workshops in Turkey stopped due to the earthquake that struck the region last February, which was an additional reason for the rise in prices.
Ahmed al-Mahmoud, an owner of a clothing store, told Enab Baladi that the seasons for selling children’s clothes are slightly different from women’s and men’s clothes, as merchants mainly rely on seasons before the holidays and the start of schools to sell their goods.
Al-Mahmoud stressed that the sales activity of the markets this year is worse than all previous years, as the percentage of sales decreased by about 50% from what it was in the past due to the high prices of clothes and the inability of citizens to buy clothes for their children, which threatens merchants with “heavy” losses this year, as he described it.
The merchant attributed the rise in clothing prices to a “global” rise in the prices of fabrics, as prices rose this year by 30% compared to last year, in addition to the rise in production costs.
The clothing merchant, Ali Ahmed, 48, pointed to an additional reason for the increase in the prices of clothes in the city of Idlib, which is the high costs of shipping goods from the areas of the regime or Turkey towards northern Syria, which increased by 35% compared to last year.
Regarding the difficulties in importing clothes, Ahmed says that the goods imported from southern Turkey declined due to the factories stopping due to the earthquake. Today, goods are imported from Istanbul and other relatively distant regions, and it takes seven to eight days for the goods to arrive.
As for the goods imported from Aleppo, they are transported to Lebanon, then they reach the Turkish city of Mersin by sea, and then they are brought into northern Syria. This process takes more than 20 days, and the transportation costs are very high, which led to the decline of Aleppo clothing in the northern Syrian markets.
The prices of clothes in all regions of Syria, regardless of the controlling parties, are considered high in a way that is not commensurate with the monthly income and the daily life requirements of all citizens.
Daraa-based Anaam, 33, told Enab Baladi that the cost of buying clothes for each of her four children amounts to a minimum of 150,000 Syrian pounds.
In order to buy clothes for her children and fulfill the needs of the holiday, Anaam’s husband was forced to sell a sheep he owned for one million Syrian pounds (about $130).
While Iman, a teacher based in the countryside of Daraa, is waiting for the financial grant (150,000 SYP), in addition to her salary (120,000 SYP), to buy Eid al-Fitr clothes for her children.
The average monthly salary in Syria is about 146,000 Syrian pounds, according to the Salary Explorer website, which specializes in salary scale numbers and wages around the world.
The website indicates that 50% of the employees have an average salary of 146,000 SYP or less, while the other half earns more than 146,000 SYP.
According to the pro-government al-Watan newspaper, the rise in prices in the city of Aleppo, which is famous for manufacturing ready-made garments, is due to the fact that a large section of clothing manufacturing workshops went out of service because most of them are located in the eastern neighborhoods of the city that were damaged by the earthquake.
A large part of the workshops went out of work due to the damage they sustained or because they were not safe for the lives of the workers, which caused a severe shortage in supply, which led to an increase in prices, according to what merchants in the regime-held areas told al-Watan.
In most governorates, clothing merchants suffer from a continuous increase in the prices of energy carriers and an increase in production costs, which contributes to raising the prices of their products, in addition to their commitment to workers’ salaries or taxes and other burdens, according to the state-run Tishreen newspaper.
A number of clothing store owners told al-Watan newspaper that people’s interest in buying Eid al-Fitr clothes is “very little,” but it is not nonexistent. The purchase movement is limited to people who receive money transfers from outside Syria.
Syria ranked 18th out of 117 countries in the worker poverty rate index, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO) classification for the year 2022, and labor productivity in Syria was ranked 149th out of 185 countries, which indicates poor productivity.
The used clothes option
Hanadi, 46, a teacher based in al-Qahtaniya town in the northeastern al-Hasakah governorate, told Enab Baladi that the cost of buying Eid clothes for one child amounts to a minimum of 150,000 Syrian pounds, which she cannot secure.
The mother of five added that the used clothes markets have become an alternative option for new clothes for years, as their prices are lower than the prices of new clothes.
The general price level is witnessing repeated, almost daily rises throughout the Syrian governorates, affecting commodities, basic materials, and foodstuffs, which doubles the citizens’ lack of purchasing power.
Most Syrians resort to relying on more than one source in an attempt to balance income and expenses, the most prominent of which are remittances from expatriates outside Syria and relying on second jobs, while families dispense with basic needs to reduce their spending.
Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Idlib, Anas al-Khouli, contributed to this report.
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