The victims of Russia’s war in Syria suffer the devastating consequences of another war in Ukraine
ITV News International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar reports on how the war in Ukraine is worsening the plight of people in Syria
Words by ITV News Senior Producer Roohi Hasan
Syrians are only too familiar with some of Vladimir Putin’s tactics in Ukraine, having been victims of a decade long conflict in which the Syrian regime was supported for many years by Russia in its bombardments of civilian targets.
The conflict has left it one of the most vulnerable countries in the world.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the ensuing rise in global fuel and food prices has crippled Syria even further.
One baker in Idlib in Northwest Syria told ITV News this week that 80% of the population can’t afford bread since the rise in wheat prices after the invasion.
“I used to buy one ton of flour for $400 (£322) in one night it went to $530 (£427)!”
The sad irony is that he, like so many others, used to rely on local wheat farms before they were destroyed by the Syrian regime and Russian bombing - forcing customers to become dependent on imported wheat.
These rising prices are keeping Wafiah awake at night, crying.
She tells us she is worried about how her family will survive. We meet her at one of the IDP (internally displaced people) camps in Northwest Syria, that is emerging from a freezing winter.
Here she cares for her 12 orphaned grandchildren, whose fathers were killed or imprisoned in the conflict, leaving them with no breadwinner.
"We need sugar, bread, oil, butter - we can't afford. What do I sleep thinking of? I keep thinking how I can feed the girls and the boys!"
Her weariness at living this life is evident.
The latest figures out of Syria paint a dire picture:
Even before the invasion of Ukraine, 90% of Syria’s population lived in poverty, two-thirds were dependent on humanitarian aid and 55% were food insecure.
Now only one in ten families surveyed said they were able to meet the £165 needed each month to cover food/essentials.
And 87% say they now have to skip meals to meet other living costs.
"Living conditions are very hard, like nothing we have seen. 2,000 Syrian pounds used to buy the main essentials – now it doesn’t get you anything. 50,000 Syrian pounds, if you can find it, won’t even cover you for one day,” said one mother of six living in rural Damascus.
Abd Alazeez Omar fled Russian bombing of his home in Syria three years ago.
Now, he tells us, he and his family are suffering as a result of the Russians once again.
Three of his children are disabled and he has to take them to physiotherapy for their rehabilitation - but because of high fuel prices as a result of the war in Ukraine, he is finding it difficult to make that journey.
He says it kills him as a father to not be able to afford medicines and food for his children.
Footage shared with ITV News purports to show the aftermath of a Russian attack in Syria this month
Syrian volunteer rescue workers, known as the White Helmets, have shared with ITV News their count of the number of Russian direct attacks or indirect (supporting regime bombing) that have taken place while the Ukraine conflict has been ongoing.
Since the start of the year, they say almost 70 people have been killed and hundreds injured.
UNICEF told us that in the first three months of this year, 213 children were among those killed or injured.
While the world’s attention is on Ukraine, the UN reported this week that six million Syrian children are now in need of humanitarian assistance.
That's the highest number since the conflict began more than a decade ago.
All of this adds to the critical situation Syria’s people are in, as the UN and other countries meet this week to discuss how to help the victims of Russia’s other war.
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