Aleppo secret office, security checkpoints and living conditions push residents to flee Syria

Aleppo – Saber al-Halabi

Abdul Aziz, 44, of Aleppo governorate obtained passports for himself and his family last August, after completing the standard process and receiving validation from the Recruitment Division, the government entity responsible for granting travel authorizations for men aged 17 and 50 in Syria.

However, Abdul Aziz, who asked Enab Baladi withholding his last name for security reasons, has not been able to travel to this day, having failed to sell his house, having decided to settle abroad and never return to Syria.

Abdul Aziz, who works in a pharmaceutical factory in the western countryside of Aleppo, said Enab Baladi that the difficult living conditions had prompted him to consider leaving Syria with his family, which also supports the travel option.

Abdul Aziz said: “The situation is unbearable in all respects. I wait until my house is sold, then I will travel before things get worse. He added: “Life has become horrible in Aleppo, with high prices and an increase in thefts. Cell phones and civilians’ money are confiscated at security checkpoints.

Long queues at the Directorate of Immigration and Passports

Enab BaladiThe Aleppo correspondent in Aleppo reported that the Directorate of Immigration and Passports has witnessed daily traffic jams since the early hours of the morning, as people queue in long lines to ask for or complete their passport procedures.

People applying for a passport must pay US $ 300 with unstamped US $ 100 banknotes from the money transfer and exchange offices to the finance department of the branch to validate the banknotes with the stamp of the Central Bank of Syria.

Civilians in Aleppo are looking for various methods to secure unstamped US $ 100 bills, which they mainly buy from gold jewelry stores or unlicensed money transfer and exchange stores.

In addition, people undertaking passport procedures or renewals are robbed at security checkpoints deployed by Syrian regime forces in the governorate. They are obliged to hand over all the money they have before going through the checkpoints.

“As if the insecurity and horrible living conditions were aimed at forcing people to travel abroad and empty Aleppo of its inhabitants so that it would be inhabited by elements of the Iranian militia and grant them citizenship,” Abdul Aziz said.

Flights at security checkpoints

Raghda (47 years old) said Enab Baladi that members of the regime’s 4th Division forcibly took US $ 400 from her on her way to the Directorate of Immigration and Passports.

She said she tried to request the refund, but members of the division did not respond. “This amount, whether in US currency or its equivalent in Syrian pound, is required as a fee for obtaining a passport; otherwise, the process will not be completed.

Raghda added: “There is no escaping the elements at checkpoints. They force us to pay large sums to cross; otherwise, we will be refused permission to pass.

“I asked them to return the money, but they refused. I then threatened to press charges against them, to which they responded with swearing and yelling, saying, “We can arrest you on the charge of smuggling foreign currency.”

Unfortunately, Raghda did not claim her money, although she begged the members of the 4th Division and showed them papers proving that she needed the money for her passport process.

Raghda also commented on the “terrible” treatment of government employees at the Directorate of Immigration and Passports, which “encouraged people to leave Syria and never come back, because the management that issues passports is the same. entity that pushes citizens to hate their country, serving as a gateway to immigration, ”she said.

Selling homes at undervalued prices or half of their real value

Dozens of houses in several districts of Aleppo are offered for sale, some put on the market at undervalued prices or half of their real value. Meanwhile, real estate agents take the opportunity to buy properties at prices they decide. Dealers benefit from urgent owner sales by speeding up sales processes and securing security clearances in a short time.

Mahmoud, 49, an employee of the Aleppo Water Company, was forced to sell his house in the al-Ethaa neighborhood in exchange for half of the amount he was previously offered when the real estate market was booming boom and house prices were high.

Several years ago, Mahmoud was offered 35 million Syrian pounds (about 14,000 US dollars) for his house in the Sulaymaniyah neighborhood, but he refused to sell, believing that living conditions would improve afterwards. the presidential elections, which did not take place.

Mahmoud does not anticipate any improvement in living conditions; instead, he expects the situation to get worse, adding that his monthly salary barely covers the expenses of daily necessities for a few days.

Mahmoud said Enab Baladi that he is currently waiting for the sale of his house to use the money in the passport process and temporarily leave Aleppo for Lebanon before heading to Jordan and from there to Europe, as planned.

Saeed, 39, made an agreement with his brother Naji to sell their family’s house in the Ismailiyah neighborhood through a local estate agency. The two were trying to sell the house for 400 million Syrian pounds (US $ 125,000), which the property dealers refused to pay.

Saeed said Enab Baladi that real estate brokers have manipulated the market and exploited the situation of people, who have sold their properties to raise money and travel abroad.

The arbitrary procedures of the secret office

Living and economic conditions continue to deteriorate in Aleppo, with several factories, factories and warehouses closed by the secret office of the Customs Directorate, which also seized the contents of these establishments before closing them.

Traders in Aleppo are forced to pay large sums to protect their property through government protection services, or militias and security services will sue them for money.

Clothing factory owner Abdul Karim (41) is preparing to leave Syria after closing his establishment next week and selling his products at half their value.

Abdul Karim said Enab Baladi, “The continuous tightening of the secret office of the Customs Directorate, the confiscation of goods by elements of the 4th division during their transport, the imposition of taxes, the high cost of living and the low purchasing power of civilians. are the factors that encouraged me to decide to leave Syria and go to Egypt.

He added, “I got the passport shortly after bribing an officer from the Immigration and Passport Directorate to speed up the process. All my trading friends have done the same because there is no future for trading in Aleppo.

The closure of some factories and factories in Aleppo reduces employment opportunities and increases unemployment.

The head of the textile sector of the Chamber of Industry of Damascus and Rif Dimashq, Mohannad Dadoush, said in an interview with local Sham FM radio last August that a considerable number of irreplaceable Syrian industrialists have left for Egypt after having suffered many difficulties.

According to Dadoush, these difficulties include the lack of energy to run factories, low purchasing power of customers and inadequate export agreements.

Migration has present and future impacts on Syria, economically, socially and demographically, especially in areas experiencing an increase in real estate sales in an attempt to flee the country. Repossession of property in these areas will not be easy in the future for those who sell their homes during this time.

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