"I swear by Allah this is shameful. We did not receive any fuel until now. We want to save our children from the cold, and no one wants to hear us." This is what one of the mothers in Tartous governorate, who were unable to provide fuel for the warmth of their children, said, as officials seem busier with issuing statements about the causes of the fuel crisis in Syria rather than solve the problem.
Syrians in various governorates are complaining about not receiving their shares from heating fuel, especially after a "fuel company" (the Syrian Company for Storage and Distribution of Petroleum Products) reduced diesel allocations from 200 to 100 litters in some governorates at the beginning of this month under the pretext of securing the delivery of fuel to all registered families.
The Syrian regime’s Ministry of Oil has not issued any decision to reduce the amount of subsidized diesel allocated to families from 200 to 100 litters in the Syrian governorates, according to Al-Watan newspaper.
The newspaper pointed out that the quantity was reduced by a decision of the fuel committee in Aleppo, Latakia and Tartous for instance in order to secure the delivery of diesel to all registered families.
The cold makes our children sicker
Abu Suleiman, a citizen of Tartous, appealed via Facebook to Governor Safwan Abu Saadi to supply them with heating fuel, saying: “Is it logical to deprive us of our right to the heating fuel allocated by the government? January is approaching, it may not be cold enough for us as adults, but whoever saves our children and our sick from this unbearable cold?”
He added: "All matters have gone out of control in Tartous. The corrupt have prevailed, and this is what we cannot accept."
Muhammad commented on Facebook: "We only received 100 litters of diesel last year, but this year we did not receive any. We call on officials to intervene because the cold makes our children sick and we are unable to secure warmth to them."
Syria topped the list of the poorest countries in the world, issued in February by World By Map website, with a rate of 82 percent. The United Nations also estimated in its 2019 report, the percentage of Syrians below the poverty line at 83 percent, adding that 11.7 million Syrians need some form of humanitarian aid, such as food, healthcare and education.
As for Malek, he asked: "When will the leadership’s conscience wake up and consider the plight of its poor popular incubator that is pushed to the brink of poverty and death?"
He added: "The martyrs’ wives and their children are becoming beggars.”
With the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, the people of Tartous took part in separate demonstrations during 2011 and 2012 calling for the overthrow of the regime as part of their solidarity with other demonstrators in the rest of the governorates. But soon the popular movement in the governorate subsided.
Malek added: "The problems have burdened the citizens and emptied their heart before their pockets, leaving them with pockets full of grievances," pointing out that "the lack of effective and impartial oversight, inefficient plans and mechanisms put in place for fuel distribution that waste the citizen's time and degrade his dignity, intentionally or unintentionally, is one of the causes of the crisis of long queues."
Others talked about corruption in the diesel distribution process, as people in rich areas have received their allocations at a time when the poor despaired of receiving their shares.
Nobody listens or responds
"Nobody listens or responds” is the sentence that the Syrians say, at a time when there is no electricity available to use the electric heater, and no one can buy diesel from the black market because of its high price, in addition to the fact that the price of firewood reached 120,000 Syrian pounds per ton. On the other hand, the Syrian citizens cannot get gas due to a severe shortage of supplies.
Citizens in Tartous complained to Al-Thawra newspaper on 8 December about the delay in distributing fuel and the reduction of allocations from 200 to 100 litters.
The newspaper quoted a member of the executive office of the Tartous council for the supply and fuel sector, Bayan Othman, as saying that the priority for distribution is to cold areas in the far countryside down to the less cold areas, and most importantly for the families of the army martyrs.
He added that there is an urgent need to increase the quantities due to the extreme cold in areas of Tartous countryside, such as Qadmus, Mashta and others, where the rural population counts about 70 percent of the governorate's demography.
The Ministry of Oil of the Syrian regime government started distributing household diesel via the smart card of the Takamol Company in 2018, starting with Damascus governorate, and extending the mechanism to all regime controlled areas.
Every family that owns a smart card is entitled to receive their allocations of 400 litters of heating fuel at the subsidized price, distributed in two batches, the first is of 200 litters, usually delivered starting from August until the end of the year, and the second is also 200 litters handed over from the beginning of the new year until mid-July. However, the regime government this year started distributing half of the allocated quantity, while many did not receive their shares.
The Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection raised the price of a litter of industrial and commercial diesel fuel from 296 to 650 Syrian pounds on19 October, i.e. by more than 100 percent, in addition to augmenting the price of a litter of gasoline “95 octane" from 850 to 1050 Syrian pounds; while it kept the price of heating fuel at 180 Syrian pounds and the price of a litter of diesel for bread ovens at 135 Syrian pounds.
Media reports attributed one of the causes of the fuel crisis to corruption and favouritism in the governorate, which may push the Syrians to buy their needs from the black market at a price that exceeds 1000 Syrian pounds per litter of fuel, while the price of a litter of subsidized diesel is actually 180 Syrian pounds.