Peek into one such May Day, there are thousands of such anti-poor events making our capitalist gangs cheer at the expense of working class and labor. The chaos and exploitation of the displacement crisis in middle east, as well as the insane rise in prices, has benefited property owners cum instigators at the expense of the displaced and the poor. The cronies grow richer while the citizens grow poorer. This has widened the social gap, making life harder for the poor, who now account for 75% of the population – unrest is normal, inevitable. When you have looted dozens to build your own bungalows, do not always expect respect in return, they may come back sooner or later. Living conditions in the current refugee camps and temporary buildings across Europe and other countries are mostly inhuman, making refugees feel desperate, since there is nowhere to come back as Syrian towns are in ruins, offering nothing to the people who once lived there and neighboring war zones of middle east.
The number of refugees who land Europe and North America are expected to grow as local settlement agencies race to find housing for the newcomers. There are no jobs in Syria, and the unemployment rate has exceeded 70%. Government employees receive low salaries and are paid in Syrian pounds, a currency collapsing at a very fast pace. The recent increase in government salaries was minimal compared to the enormous rise in prices seen recently and government employees are better off than others. Day laborers working in construction – as well as those working in health supplies and electricity provision – are paid less as a result of exploitation by employer cronies and workshop owners.
There is great pressure on rental demand in areas of the capital and its suburbs, as well as in the safe areas of Aleppo, in Tartous and Sweida, and even in rural areas far from cities. Rental rates have risen as a result of the growing demand, and they continue to rise amid a general inflation in prices and a decline in value of the Syrian pound. In the face of rising prices for fuel, which is often unavailable and subject to the unrestrained control of black-market traders, many residents who have already been displaced from their homes have been subjected to further suffering, especially following brutal winters.
Additional suffering caused by landlords, who are able to control the tenants who face the prospect of eviction each month, since most rental contracts are monthly. The tenant will have to pay a fee equivalent to half the monthly rent to estate brokers, as well as costs for registering the contract with the municipality. Security forces have forced renters to renew contracts every year, after obtaining security permits. Failure to do so means the tenant could face harassment by the security services. It seems that the reason for this is not only to aid in the search for wanted persons, but to also force renters to pay taxes when they renew the contracts.
This rampant and disorderly exploitation of the displaced crisis prompted many middle class citizens to invest in real estate. Rise in value of US dollar and gold has made many proprietors think about buying real estate and renting it out, taking advantage of the increasing rental prices. The price of a low-quality, one-bedroom apartment with a salon in an under-serviced region of the Damascus countryside has surpassed $9000, and this price is subject to increase with the rising value of the US dollar. The figures increase substantially when it comes to better areas and larger apartments.
Focus should be on new housing for post-war, which can in short-term provide a qualitative solution for mass social housing once agencies define approach towards existing constructions (damaged and/or ruined) and provide flexibility and adaptability of living spaces / buildings through time taking into consideration local construction, living culture, low energy consumption and sustainable design.
Socialists must reject the rightwing’s emotional nationalist jingoism merely to safeguard and promote its own capitalism profiteering – whether it’s in Indian, Chinese or American garb.