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The Syria I Knew: 115 SYD to the Dollar, But Not Giving Up

Dina Shahrokhi is research associate at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston.

Written by Dina Shahrokhi Published on Read time Approx. 2 minutes

I start almost every day at work with a death count. The last three days’ numbers – 119, 115, 124, according to the Local Coordination Committee – are the norm.

A good portion of these victims are women and children who were either in the wrong place at the wrong time, related to the wrong people, or part of the wrong sect. Very few of the victims ever held a gun.

I read these figures from my work computer every morning, and as the days and months pass, I am becoming numb to the numbers.

Let’s be honest: most of us following Syria are getting used to the numbers.

When we read the news, bombs and government shelling – atrocities that once instigated global outcry – now take up a single paragraph halfway through a broader piece about Syria. Such grisly events now seem to be taken for granted in this country at war.

The situation in Syria has been dire for months now, so much so that from here it feels like there has been virtually no change and all is doomed to disaster, one way or another.

But the truth of the matter is that things are not stagnant. For citizens across Syria, things are getting exponentially worse. March was the bloodiest month yet in the conflict, and the United Nations can no longer afford to care for refugees and internally displaced Syrians.

My good friend Ahmad (I’ve changed his name for his protection) said that in just the last three months, things have gotten significantly worse in his hometown of Damascus.

Ahmad said factories and companies close daily, and that the lira has depreciated – once 50 Syrian pounds (SYD) to the U.S. dollar, it’s now up to 115 SYD to the dollar. Kidnappings and theft in the capital are widespread, mortars often hit the center of the city, and fear consumes everyday life.

Despite these terrible turns for the worse, Ahmad said he’s “lucky enough not to have a dramatic change in my life, thank god. I haven’t lost my home or any members of my family. At least not yet.”

I am not giving up on Ahmad, or on the millions of other Syrians still waiting for an end to this mess.

Because the other truth about Syria is that it has not become a failed state – yet. There are still thousands of Syrians fighting for a democratic and free Syria. There are also those fighting for a not-so-free Syria, but they are still a minority of fighters who have yet to completely hijack the revolution.

The point is that now is not the time for us to give up on Syria. No matter how long this war lasts, we, as journalists, analysts and government officials cannot grow numb to the atrocities in Syria. We have to continue to fund aid organizations, share war stories and, most of all, work with twice the vigor to help find resolutions to this crisis before the Syria we knew is truly lost forever.


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