Idlib civilians, many of whom have suffered displacement and poverty as a result of the war, are experiencing a different Ramadan atmosphere this year, marked by measures to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Maarat al-Numan native Hani al-Numan, who recently fled with his family to a town near the Turkish border, told Diyaruna the Ramadan atmosphere is virtually non-existent in the Idlib region.
Religious rituals such as the taraweeh prayers (special Ramadan evening prayers) and congregational prayer have been suspended, he said, and there are no Ramadan banquet tables offering communal meals.
The traditionally bustling markets also have been unusually quiet, he said.
Recent military operations, which have seen heavy shelling and airstrikes from Syrian regime and Russian forces, also have put a damper on the Ramadan atmosphere, al-Numan said.
Thousands of Idlib residents have been displaced by the fighting, leaving everything behind, he said, while those who have returned from displacement camps amid the ongoing health crisis are suffering immeasurably.
Prices rose sharply as Ramadan began, he said, putting some items -- including vegetables, fruit and other Ramadan necessities -- beyond the purchasing power of many local residents.
Some local relief organisations are trying to provide assistance with the resources available, he said, but this has fallen far short of meeting the needs of needy families.
Schools in regime areas remain closed
Meanwhile, more than four million students in regime-controlled areas who have been confined at home due to the coronavirus will not resume classes this year but will advance to the next grade, AFP reported Sunday (April 26th).
Schools were closed in mid-March to combat the spread of the virus, leaving many students and teachers to adapt to distance learning.
"All primary and secondary school students will move on to the next class," the government announcement said, according to state media.
Brevet and baccalaureate examinations will still be sat by 557,000 students, according to the education ministry.
After schools were shuttered, some institutions moved to online teaching, while an education ministry TV channel broadcast Arabic, English, mathematics and science courses.
But daily power cuts that can last for hours and capped, costly household internet have posed challenges to distance learning efforts.
Universities will remain closed at least through the end of Ramadan.