DAILY BREAD: Residents of A-Raqqa city line up to receive free bread from volunteers belonging to the Relief Bakery, a charity kitchen that relies on donations to produce and distribute 2,000 meals a day.
Earlier this month, a “bread crisis” swept the city. Most bakeries closed their doors and huge crowds massed around those that remained open, according to pro-opposition Facebook page A-Raqqa 24.
On August 22, the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent jointly warned that scarcity of rain during the winter, combined with unusually hot temperatures during the summer had heavily impacted agricultural harvests, damaging food security in A-Raqqa, Aleppo, Hasaka and Deir e-Zor.
Lack of bread and other food necessities, however, is not a new phenomenon in the provincial capital A-Raqqa, now under the control of the Islamic State. Last winter, residents described food shortages as “suffocating,” according to reports by pro-opposition website Syria Newsdesk.
Residents spoke of merchants exploiting dire conditions in the city to turn a profit, making rounds and selling bread at more than double the going rate. Civilians were forced to buy from roaming traders, afraid that the regime would target bakeries, or simply because bakers had no bread to sell.
Other causes of bread scarcity in A-Raqqa abound. Since IS consolidated control of the province early this year, the regime has prevented food shipments originating from the west from passing through Palmyra into A-Raqqa.
Similarly, charitable organizations including the Red Crescent have largely halted operations in A-Raqqa following IS control.
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