https://diyaruna.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_di/features/2020/02/20/feature-02

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Society |

Deir Ezzor residents decry regime's negligence

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

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An elderly man scavenges for anything useful in a garbage pile in a street in Deir Ezzor. [Photo courtesy of Furat Post]

Deir Ezzor residents in parts of the province under the control of the Syrian regime and militias affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are facing mounting difficulties, local activists said.

Syrian government institutions have made no improvements in areas of the eastern province they recaptured, despite the promises made at the time, activist Ammar Saleh told Diyaruna.

All that is happening is the further proliferation of IRGC-affiliated militias and rehabilitation of the areas they occupy, in order to provide the militiamen with housing and turn some private homes into military posts, he said.

The rubble of houses and other buildings destroyed in the fighting with the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) has still not been removed, Saleh noted.

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Piles of untreated garbage are strewn throughout Deir Ezzor with no Syrian regime waste management company to remove them. [Photo courtesy of Furat Post]

Many districts and neighbourhoods remain uninhabitable, due to the lack of water, electricity and sanitation services. And there is rampant unemployment and poverty, due to an acute shortage of job opportunities.

In some streets, people can be seen scavenging for anything useful or edible, he said, and children have been put to work at demeaning and exhausting jobs.

"The region has never experienced this level of poverty and neglect before," he said, noting that these circumstances are both unusual and troubling.

Rising prices, many restrictions

Prices in the marketplace have risen sharply, Saleh said, particularly the prices of food, vegetables and fruit, which have risen beyond the purchasing power of many of the region's residents.

No steps have been taken to rein them in, he noted.

Some families whose sons joined IRGC-affiliated militias also live beneath the poverty line, Saleh said, as the salaries paid by the militias only cover the most essential needs. Yet those families feel that is better than nothing.

"Freedom of movement is virtually non-existent because of the heavy deployment of militiamen, who carry out stringent ID checks and prevent people from moving around at will," he said.

They also prohibit farmers from tending to their land and raising crops on it, he added, under the pretext that their land is in closed "military zones".

"This while the regime is trying to polish its image by publicising the actions it is taking to improve the area, such as the rehabilitation of a public park with support from international organisations," he said.

Meanwhile, "the surrounding area is totally destroyed", he said, and the mounting piles of garbage everywhere now pose a real threat to public health.

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