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Crisis impoverishes more than half of Syria's population


09:01, June 18, 2013

DAMASCUS, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Plagued by long-standing crisis in the country, more than half of the Syrian population is now living below the poverty line with the unemployment rate soaring surprisingly to 84.8 percent, said a recent report issued by the Syrian Center for Policy Research.

Recently, the unemployment rate, which stood at around 44.7 percent by the end of 2012, has reached an alarming level, the nongovernmental center said, adding that the number of the poor in Syria before the crisis was around 5.5 million and now has reached 12 million out of the country's 23 million inhabitants.

Worst still, the steep depreciation of the Syrian pound against the U.S. dollar has further overburdened the Syrian people and drove prices of all items skyrocketing.

The pound is now traded in the black market at 180 for one dollar, up from 47 by the beginning of the crisis in mid-March 2011.

The Damascus Chamber of Commerce said in a memorandum that the rising costs of all imported goods have led to a decline in the purchasing value of the Syrian pound and a sharp deterioration in the average income per capita.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs announced recently that it was working on a project of establishing a body for social security to help the poor and needy through providing subsidies to the most vulnerable families.

Labor Minister, Hassan Hijazi ,announced that a youth employment program will be launched this year, which is expected to create 25,000 job opportunities.

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