Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Aging threatens Syrian society

A recent short-form video published in Arabic on pro-regime Q Business YouTube account titled “Aging Threatens Syrian Society” opens with this declaration: Spinsterhood has become a common phenomenon.

“Syrian society is heading towards aging,” says Dr. Shafeeq Arbash, Professor in the Faculty of Economics at Damascus University Department of Statistics and former Director of the Central Bureau of Statistics with more than 30 years of experience in this field. “The ratio of females to males is more than two-thirds. Currently, there are only 600,000 births. Many deaths are still unregistered, which is a problem” he continues.

Dr. Arbash does not provide any explanations for the reasons why which include the fact that the regime often fails to record the many deaths it is responsible for

While acknowledging the fact that many of the deaths that have occurred in Syria since 2011 have not been registered, Dr. Arbash does not provide any explanations for the reasons why which include the fact that the regime often fails to record the many deaths it is responsible for and that many Syrians still living in the regime-controlled areas (presumably what he later refers to as the “safe provinces”) of the country are afraid to even register the death or disappearance of a family member due to the repercussions that may follow from the regime.

To explain what criteria were used in determining that aging, spinsterhood, deaths, and births threaten society in Syria, Dr. Arbash said, “We can make a comparison between the number of students in each grade and the number of those taking basic education certificates in 2010 and 2024. We can use other measures, such as Syria’s annual wheat consumption, the amount of bread produced daily, the amount of diesel distributed, the number of gas cylinders distributed, and so on.

“Now we notice that many professions have female workers. This female labor was socially unacceptable before 2011.”

Dr. Shafeeq Arbash

“For example, the population of Syria residing in the Syrian Arab Republic in 2010 was about 19 million. According to the population growth rates adopted at that time, the current population should be 27.5 to 28 million. However, the population currently residing in the safe provinces represents only 57% of the population that should be present in Syria.

“Migration waves, whether external migration or internal displacement, have affected the work of the Central Bureau of Statistics. This migration has led to the departure of more than a third of the population from the country, the departure of youth, and an increase in spinsterhood in Syria. Now we notice that many professions have female workers. This female labor was socially unacceptable before 2011.”

In referring to the migration of Syrians, Dr. Arbash does not mention that the regime’s brutality is responsible for the vast majority of Syrian migration and that the “departure of youth” was largely due to young men and families (fearing that their sons would eventually be forcibly conscripted into the Syrian army or simply desiring to find a safe place to raise their children) fleeing the country. While in some countries it would be considered a noble thing to fight for one’s country, since 1970 the Syrian army has progressively become a military institution whose main focus is not defending the country, but ensuring the survival of the oppressive regime. Under Assad’s rule this has increasingly required soldiers to participate in the killing of their fellow Syrians. This also accounts for the extreme imbalance of females to males and the dropping life expectancy for males that Dr. Arbash reports in his statistics. 

Another unmentioned factor regarding the decreased healthcare in Syria that Dr. Arbash refers to is the deliberate targeting of physicians and healthcare facilities in the country by the regime and its allies since 2011

“The average life expectancy in Syria for males was 74.5 years and for females was 76.5 years. It has now decreased. This decrease from 74 to 59 means that the death rate among the youth is much higher than it was previously, and the reasons are many. There is malnutrition, the effects of this war, worries, and decreased healthcare, which is very important,” said Dr. Arbash.

Another unmentioned factor regarding the decreased healthcare in Syria that Dr. Arbash refers to is the deliberate targeting of physicians and healthcare facilities in the country by the regime and its allies since 2011, as well as the extreme inflation imposed upon the country due to the failed economy under Assad. Many Syrians are struggling just to put food on the table and now consider spending money on healthcare a luxury they can no longer afford.

According to Dr. Arbash, the latest statement from the director of the Syrian Doctors’ Syndicate says: “The average annual spending of a Syrian citizen on healthcare does not exceed $100, while the average spending in other countries exceeds $4,000.”

there will be no solution to the decline of Syria as a whole until there is a successful transfer of power to a government that is more concerned with the survival of the people and the country than it is with its own

“There should be one million births annually or 1.1 million, with around 140,000 to 150,000 deaths annually. Currently, there are only 600,000 births, and there are no death statistics because many deaths are still unregistered, which is a problem,” Dr. Arbash continued.

The video concludes with Dr. Arbash reiterating his previous warning, “Syrian society is heading towards aging, and we may not feel its impact immediately.”

While the job of a statistician is to cite statistics, and Dr. Arbash has done that as well as he can under the current circumstances, mere statistics do not offer any solutions to the problem he presents. As time goes by it becomes increasingly clear that there will be no solution to the decline of Syria as a whole until there is a successful transfer of power to a government that is more concerned with the survival of the people and the country than it is with its own.

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