Turkish lira slump hits displaced families in Syria's northwest
Syrians displaced in Idlib get paid in Turkish lira and the value of their earnings started shrinking as an economic crisis spread over the border from Turkey.
Reuters - Amer Ezzeldin was already struggling to make ends meet in the northwestern Syrian province he fled to during the war in the country. Then the value of his earnings started shrinking as an economic crisis spread over the border from Turkey.
The 30-year-old, like many Syrians displaced in Idlib close to that frontier, gets paid in Turkish lira - a currency that has slumped against the U.S. dollar.
The 20 lira he earns every day in one of Idlib's fruit and vegetable markets buys less and less. "I look at my kids and think, I swear to God, if they are craving a banana I no longer have enough to even get them one," Ezzeldin said.
More than four million people live in Syria's densely populated jihadist-held northwest, including half a million in tents along the Turkish border.
The move to use Turkish money instead of Syrian pounds started gaining momentum last year, a sign of Ankara's growing influence in a region seized by Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies more than four years ago from ISIS militants.
Most Syrians were happy to escape the fluctuations of their local currency at the time, taking comfort in the relative stability of the lira.
But the strategy has now backfired amid a selloff in the lira driven by aggressive monetary easing that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had sought, but that economists and opposition politicians say is reckless.
In Turkey, the market crash has helped push inflation, which in turn has hurt Erdoğan's opinion polls ahead of elections set for 2023.