Food prices in Syria have skyrocketed to their highest level in decades, which, coupled with the economic downturn, has overburdened the Syrian citizens and gave an impression that something boils beneath the surface especially ahead of the Muslim's holy month of Ramadan.
Over the past two months, the Syrian pound dipped to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar and was traded at 205 pounds per dollar in the black market, up from 47 pounds before the outbreak of the crisis in mid March 2011.
The depreciation of the pound and the erratic inflation rate have pushed prices to an unprecedented level, increasing the suffering of the Syrian people, who have already been enduring risks that threatens their lives amid a dramatic surge in attacks.
Salary raise not enough
A recent non-government report alleged that half of Syria's 23 million inhabitants are below the poverty line and the rise in food prices means a descent into extreme poverty and hunger.
Around 50 percent or more of a family budget goes toward food. Kick up the price of wheat or rice or bread, and you can spell the difference between having two meals a day or one.
The government has recently raised the salaries of public employees by nearly 40 percent. However, the step, according to economists, is still incapable to fill the gap between the income and the soaring prices.
A recent report published by the state-run Tishrin newspaper said that the salary increase at these exceptional circumstances is an actual indication of the strength of the national economy, but noting that it has a negative impact on the market, as it coincided with the price of diesel fuel increasing from 36 pounds to 60 pounds.
The raising of diesel fuel's prices will be reflected on the prices of thousands of goods and transportation and shipping services, said Abed Fadhliya, an economic researcher, told the Syrian Days website.
Hard to ensure basic food
For most Syrians, ensuring basic food meals is not less difficult than keeping their lives away from the widespread death in many hotspots in the country. The basket of most Syrians today is empty of meat, eggs and milk and the salary increase for civil servants will only cover a fraction of the food deficit.
Amira, a mother of four, who has been displaced from her house in one of Damascus' suburbs and is currently staying with her sister in Damascus, said she, along with her kids, used to gather every evening around a little dish of boiled potatoes and loaves of bread.
Trying to hide her tears, she said: "They keep asking me for meat and sweets, something I cannot afford at the time being."
What makes matter worse is the approaching month of Ramadan, during which the price steadily increase.
"Before the crisis, we used to buy no less than three kg of tomatoes, but now we cannot even buy one kg," said Saeed in his 40s. One kg of tomato is sold now at 150 pounds, up from 30 pounds ahead of the crisis.
"Ramadan needs a special budget," he lamented. "I wonder how we would be able to buy food for this month. We are extremely upset and fed up with these harsh and unbearable conditions," he said, noting that the government should double its efforts to ease the burden on the citizens.