They say the electric station was partially attacked. It’s not 12 midnight and the electricity just came on one hour ago. It went out last night at ten.
The streets are almost empty until 11 or 12. You always hear explosions in the distance. We are used to it. But what happened on Jalaa Street yesterday from 6 to 12 really shook the Haleb Armenians as they felt the ferocity of the events on their skin. Before that, on the edges of New Kyugh (the area of Sourp Kevork) more incidents took place, getting closer to the Armenian areas.
95% of the shops are closed. You’ll only see one or two shops open in the Aziziyeh Market. Taxis have hiked their rates and there are almost no public buses around. Minivans that seat 14 still work but they don’t go everywhere. For example, you can only get from Nor Kyugh to Aziziyeh by foot. All the streets on the other side of Kapriye are closed off and cars can’t get through.
A litre of gasoline now costs 250 Syrian Pounds, a steep hike from the 35 it used to be. Gas now costs 6,000 (the official price is 450). The government gives bakeries mazut (a low quality heavy fuel) and flour. Most bakeries work throughout the night and close by 8-9 in the morning. But the bread isn’t enough since many come from far away and buy a lot. Many outlying neighbourhoods have no working bakeries.
Most fruit vendors don’t show up. They probably haven’t been able to come in from the villages. Everything is expensive. The grocery stores are open. The most interesting development is the huge increase in those selling smuggled cigarettes on the streets. You can find almost all brands. Even local cigarettes have jumped in price.
The money of Armenians still hasn’t dried up. The wealthy already have one foot out the door. The middle class is still holding on but the proportion of the classes still isn’t clear. That will become evident when schools open up in September and the expenses will have to be paid.
The schools officially open on September 16, but many of the schools have been taken over by refuges and those left homeless. People can be seen sleeping out in the open in parks and squares.
The situation of Armenians is better than residents from the outlying neighbourhoods. The Armenians are afraid that the government will force them to accept outsiders into their schools and there is a hidden fear that some Armenian neighbourhoods will empty out, like a part of Nor Kyugh.
A central body has been formed that has exacted around $700 from each Armenian organization to buy stocks of basic commodities (2 tons of flour, 2 tons of wheat, 2 tons of sugar, etc.)
Each organization has to come up with 5 benefactors ready to help destitute Armenians with a $35 assistance package of necessities.
You see groups of 3-5 people milling about the streets discussing the events of the day. There are storeowners standing outside their partially closed gates waiting for friend and acquaintances to come for a chat. They’ll even grab a stranger as a conversation partner.
But there’s a dominate atmosphere of fear and disquiet. The children are kept indoors especially since the lights are prone to go out. The kids have nothing to do. This makes the overall situation even irritating.
In the evenings, the streets are dark and silent. Sulimaniye is the last to be emptied of people.
This is even more amazing because it’s Ramadan and in the past Haleb streets were full of people throughout the entire night visiting the shops that stayed open till morning.
Those shop owners who had the foresight not to stock their shelves for this Ramadan are in a better situation than those who didn’t see the economic downturn coming.
Economic life has hit the barebones minimum. Just the essentials are being bought and sold.
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