The war in Syria brought work to a halt for many people. But for hundreds of public servants in former rebel-held areas that were retaken by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, there will be no return. They have been fired for reasons such as insufficient “loyalty” or simple “failure to report for work.” As for the latter, the restrictions that war imposes on movement and safety are, apparently, no excuse. Nor is the geographical accident of being in the “wrong” place controlled by the “wrong” side.
This was not supposed to happen. Under the so-called “reconciliation agreement” – more often referred to as the “surrender deal” – between the Assad regime and the rebels, government workers were assured they would get their jobs back and also be entitled to claim back pay and benefits that were suspended during the conflict. Whatever the reasons for the mass dismissals, they have left schools, hospitals and other state institutions acutely short-staffed and unable to function properly.
With no reliable statistics available, assessing the scale of the problem is almost impossible. The anecdotal evidence, nevertheless, is overwhelming.
The first reports emerged last October from Quneitra, which from 2014 had been controlled by a rebel alliance affiliated with the Free Syrian Army. Sources claimed 50 teachers, 40 medical staff and more than 300 civil servants were fired soon after the government recaptured the province. Around 1,800 teachers and other state employees were reportedly dismissed in southern Homs and hundreds more in Daraa. The majority of them only learned of their dismissal when they were denied permission to return to work and were referred to the intelligence agency in charge of the area.
The surrender agreement does not cover every region retaken by the Assad regime. But even in those areas where it does – or should – apply, employees feel they have been targeted for dismissal simply because they live in a place that had been under rebel control. Regardless of the many obstacles that might have prevented them leaving the area, the fact that they had remained in towns or cities under rebel control now makes their loyalty questionable in the eyes of the regime. And while failure to report for work is grounds for dismissal in peacetime, it is surely excusable when there is a raging battle going on in the streets, or if your place of work was under bombardment.
Members of the teaching and medical professions have been hit particularly hard because when official institutions suspended activity as government forces retreated, they were eventually obliged to work with rebel governance bodies and service providers in order to keep schools, hospitals and clinics functioning.
Now, any government worker accused of having “resisted” the Assad regime is summoned to the security services for questioning. Those deemed “innocent” or who are able to bribe their way out get their jobs back. Employees also face the possibility of being fined by the same court or being sentenced to as many as three years in prison for “abandoning” their jobs. Dozens of public servants have filed appeals against their dismissal, but it is rare for an appeal to be successful.
Mass firings of public servants in former rebel areas hurt not only those directly concerned, but also the wider population. For example, most of the medical facilities in Daraa province are heavily damaged or completely destroyed. This means people must travel long distances to Daraa city or Damascus for medical treatment. But the hospitals and clinics there are already under severe strain because of they are short of hundreds of doctors and nurses. And of the 95 schools in Quneitra, for instance, only 30 still operate – but under severe staff shortages after 200 of 386 teachers were dismissed. Schools now rely on under-qualified temporary staff with no experience.
With few opportunities and ever-deteriorating economic conditions, those without jobs are forced to rely on financial help from relatives living abroad. Some have joined pro-government forces simply to survive.
Punitive policies toward the inhabitants of former rebel areas can only bring yet more division, more polarization and more instability for Syria for years to come. The only way to avoid that outcome is to treat civilians according to their merits and not their political affiliation, and to establish fair and effective state institutions that are accountable to their stakeholders – the citizens of Syria.
This article was provided to Asia Times by Syndication Bureau, which holds copyright.
I like what you guys are up too. This sort of clever work and exposure!
Keep up the amazing works guys I’ve included you guys to blogroll.
Greate article. Keep posting such kind of info on your page.
Im really impressed by it.
Hi there, You’ve performed a fantastic job. I’ll certainly digg it and for my part recommend to my friends.
I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this site.
Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured I’d ask.
Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa?
My site covers a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other.
If you are interested feel free to send me an email.
I look forward to hearing from you! Terrific blog by the way!
If you wish for to take a great deal from this post then you
have to apply these strategies to your won webpage.
Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any
widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest
twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some
experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into
anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.
I think this is among the most important info for me.
And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general things, The
web site style is great, the articles is really nice :
D. Good job, cheers
I have been exploring for a little for any high-quality
articles or weblog posts on this kind of house .
Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site.
Studying this information So i’m glad to exhibit that I have an incredibly
excellent uncanny feeling I discovered just what I needed.
I so much indisputably will make certain to do not disregard this website and provides it a look on a relentless basis.
Today, I went to the beach front with my kids. I found a
sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to
her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her
ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!
Hi this is kinda of off topic but I was wanting to
know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get advice
from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!
I do not usually share any sources of income, however now will do an exemption. Check out this affiliate program: http://bit.ly/phallomax-affiliate-program . I joined almost 2 months ago and I’m now getting whooping $3000 every single month – all that by participating on blogs with my affiliate link. Very easy income that you can do literally at home. Test it out and post your earning here, so others might see it is real program. Thx.
I really enjoy the article.Really looking forward to read more.
Leave a comment