On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic, urging states to take swift preventative measures for containment and to mitigate the spread, such as isolation, case monitoring, and dissemination of information related to health and safety practices. In the areas of northeast Syria (NES) typically covered by REACH’s monthly Market Monitoring Exercise, authorities began to take precautions to mitigate the risk of an outbreak, including curfews, shop closures, and movement restrictions. Meanwhile, very few mitigation measures were reported in the oppositioncontrolled areas of northwest Syria (NWS), and markets reportedly continued to function as usual. Border closures affected all regions of Syria, as neighbouring countries implemented mitigation measures, and many of the most significant crossings into northern Syria were either restricted or closed, including limitations at Bab Al-Hawa and Bab Al-Salame border crossings between NES and Turkey and a temporary closure of the Semalka crossing between NES and the Kurdistan region of Iraq (KRI).
Due to the lack of detailed, region-specific data about the impact of COVID-19 on markets, REACH launched an assessment in early April 2020 to better understand how markets were responding to the pandemic. The assessment focused on the availability and prices of a few key goods, including plastic gloves and antibacterial gel. It also asked about the functionality of local markets, including vendors’ supply and financing challenges. Finally, REACH asked about mitigation measures imposed on communities and taken by shopkeepers to slow the spread, such as limiting crowds and utilising face masks. Between 6-9 April 2020, REACH enumerators collected data from a network of vendor key informants (KIs) in northern Syria; these activities were conducted remotely due to the pandemic. The final dataset includes data from 2,998 shops in 60 sub-districts within the governorates of Aleppo, Idleb, Al-Hasakeh, Deir-ez-Zor, and Ar-Raqqa.
The following Situation Overview presents findings per hub across northern Syria. Key findings of NES are presented first, followed by NWS, and focus on market functionality, market accessibility, supply and demand, re-stocking and measures taken by shop owners.