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The New Arab Staff

Syrian pound sinks to record low amid severe dollar shortages

The Syrian lira has hit a new low [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 February, 2021

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The Syrian pound has sunk to 3,450 to the dollar on the black market.
The Syrian pound, known as the lira, has sunk to a record low amid severe foreign currency shortages that has reaped huge damage on the war-torn country's economy.

The Syrian pound is trading on the black market - viewed as the real value of the currency - at 3,450 liras to the dollar, around 18 percent lower than levels at the end of January, according to Reuters.

In March 2011, at the start of the war, the Syrian pound was trading at around 47 to the dollar.

The official Syrian exchange rate is much low, but does not reflect the true value of the dollar in Syria or weakness of the pound.

The pound's collapse has accelerated in recent months, passing the 3,000 to the dollar mark last summer but huge demand for the greenback saw a record low this weekend. 

"There is a lot of demand on dollars but hard currency is not available," a currency dealer in Aleppo told Reuters.
Sanctions, corruption, and the huge economic cost of the ten-year war have all contributed to the collapse of the pound, experts say.

Perhaps the biggest contributor to the dollar shortage has been the economic crisis in neighbouring Lebanon with banks freezing accounts and putting strict limits on withdrawals.

Syrian business people and middle classes have used Lebanese foreign banks throughout the war, seeing them as a more secure and reliable home for their deposits.

The lira's demise has particularly hit the poor, with soaring inflation putting basic goods out reach for many Syrians.

Earlier this month, the Syrian Central Bank introduced a 5,000 lira note, the highest denomination in Syria's history.

The war in Syria erupted in March 2011 when regime forces brutally suppressed peaceful, pro-democracy protests.

An armed uprising soon broke out with the Syrian regime launching a brutal assault on opposition cities and towns, using barrel bombs, artillery and gas.

Around 500,000 people have been killed in the war, mostly civilians from regime bombing and shelling, monitors and rights groups have said.

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