The Star Late Edition
Dreams in tatters as war, sanctions take toll
AMIR Dayrawan, 29, would love to live life to the fullest, spending long nights out or going on vacations. He also dreamed about finding a good job that could enable him to start a family.
All of these are normal scenarios for his peers abroad, but not Dayrawan, a young Syrian man from Damascus, who has spent the past 10 years in the shadow of war and sanctions.
Dayrawan works as a broadcaster at a local radio station, having his own morning talk show, in which he talks about social issues. He makes around $50 (R700) a month, and this humble salary is still shrinking in value amid the skyrocketing prices and excruciating economic crisis in the country.
The local currency has depreciated steadily since the Syrian crisis began in 2011. The US government imposed sanctions on the Syrian government, enterprises and individuals before the full-scale outbreak of the conflict in
Syria, and has continued to increase sanctions afterwards. The European Union also imposed sanctions on Syria in May 2011.
Years of conflict and Western sanctions have taken a heavy toll on Syria’s economic and social development. According to the United Nations, life expectancy in Syria fell from 70 years in 2010 to 55.4 years in 2014, and about 80% of Syrians live below the international poverty line, compared to less than 30% before the war.
Dayrawan’s father died 20 years ago. Living with his mother and two elder sisters, Dayrawan has to work several jobs to make ends meet. He said that he cannot afford the cigarettes or go to nightclubs. He is a vegetarian most of the time, because he cannot always afford meat.
He fears the future and also fears to hope, because none of his dreams came true, he said.
“Honestly, my expectations are always low, so I don’t have to think about things that could happen in the future and get fear or anxiety and panic from overthinking about what might go wrong.”
Dayrawan once thought about a bright future to be an anchor at prestigious Arab TV stations and to present entertainment and art programmes. But since the war began, security and economic conditions deteriorated, which forced him to suspend his university studies to support his family.
It took him seven years to complete his college education. After graduation, he never gave up on his studies. He regularly searched the internet for vocational training courses, only to find that “many online learning websites are not open to Syrian users because of the sanctions”.
He had expected economic conditions to improve over time, but had not expected the crisis to drag on for a decade with no end in sight.
Now, the man sees going abroad as the only solution to his economic problems and a way out of the crisis for a better life.
“I am exhausting all efforts to find a job abroad to get me a good income and later I would think about returning to the country, but now and here, all I think about is to either travel abroad or to find a good job to enable me to live a dignified life,” he said.
Dayrawan’s story relates to many young people in Syria. They have witnessed one crisis after another and the economic one is affecting them the most as a result of the US sanctions, which are aggravating the suffering of the Syrians and hindering the effort to rebuild the country.
“I can never think about starting a family in this situation,” Dayrawan said.