The town of Jisr al-Shughur is located in the northwest of Idlib province. The town has been under insurgent control since 2015 and is administered by a civilian town council, which is presently affiliated with the Salvation Government that is backed by Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham.
On 8 December 2019, I conducted an interview with Ismail Hasanawi, head of the Jisr al-Shughur town council, regarding the situation in Jisr al-Shughur. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: How is the humanitarian and services situation in the town of Jisr al-Shughur generally?
A: By God the humanitarian situation is bad amid these circumstances and the expensive prices and the inflation of the exchange rate of the dollar and the obscene expensiveness of the price of fuels.
Q: How is the electricity situation in the town? Is the electricity from generators? And for how many hours is the electricity operated daily at the present time?
A: The electricity is operated for 2 hours. The ampere price is 4500 [Syrian pounds]. Of course the generators are private sector.
Q: From where does the water come? Is it available in the homes or must the people buy it from private tankers?
A: The water is bought through tankers. The price of the barrel is 200 Syrian pounds. On account of the expensiveness of the mazout [heavy fuel] and the rise of the price of the dollar, the halting of support for the town water station* has increased the living burden for the citizen.
Q: What are the most important projects of the town council recently?
A: After the fierce attack by Russian aircraft, the council undertook a cleaning campaign to remove the ruins and rubble from inside the town. And the rain drains inside the streets of the town have been cleaned out in addition to renovating some of the facilities and public buildings inside the town.
Q: What are the biggest challenges from the realm of the services and humanitarian situation? How has the rise of the price of the dollar impacted life in the town?
A: The living situation is very difficult because of the rise of the prices and the lack of availability of job opportunities and the sharp deficiency in the most important components of life in the town as the inhabitants of the town live below the poverty line, making it difficult for them to secure the bundle of bread.
*Note: For clarification, the halting of support for the town water situation occurred a long time before the recent crises of fuel and rise of the price of the dollar relative to the Syrian pound. This halt of support was because the council did not have the money to purchase diesel and undertake repair/maintenance operations, and no support was offered from an aid organisation for the project.