Aleppans experience withheld services and limited access to basic necessities. Moreover, we have found that most of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods receive the least assistance. Amid the Aleppo’s tragedy, which also includes the destruction of UNESCO World Heritage sites, our study of humanitarian conditions finds ten key insights in both regime- and opposition-held Aleppo.

The map to the right shows a collection of objective and surveyed variables that we have combined, scored, and weighted into an aggregate “Humanitarian Vulnerability Index.” This indexing allows us to identify some of the most vulnerable communities in Aleppo, or areas that signal low levels of public safety, lack of services, lack of mobility, and high levels of crime.




Humanitarian Conditions
in Aleppo


1. Government may be withholding electricity.

Within opposition held neighborhoods of Aleppo, the Syrian regime is withholding. In wintertime, this is causing major heating fuel shortages. Residents are cutting down trees on the street to be used for firewood.

2. Access to bread is a challenge.

Bread is a staple of the Syrian diet. As of January 2014, more than 40% of bakeries in opposition-held Aleppo are closed, destroyed, or damaged. Shelling has destroyed one-third of these bakeries.

Areas in red/orange indicate areas in Aleppo receiving 10 or more hours of government grid electricity per day.

Syria electricity

3. Community councils distributing bread.

Opposition councils work with bakeries to distribute bread; less than 10% of bakeries in opposition-held Aleppo work independently of relationships with local councils. Although this has increased the overall cost of bread, it has increased its reliability and served to reduce price shocks between areas.

4. Regime subsidizes bread.

In regime controlled neighborhoods the price of bread is artificially low and consistent through government subsidies, when supply lines between Damascus and Aleppo are open. These subsidies mean prices are 2 to 4 times cheaper than in opposition-held areas, and is held at a steady price of 15 SYP per bag.


Bread Price Fluctuation

Price of bread fluctuated wildly over the reporting period, especially between government and opposition areas.


5. Government services support vulnerable.

The regime has one supply line into Aleppo, and residents of neighborhoods it controls are dramatically affected when rebels cut it off. In September and October 2013, the regime lost its land route into Aleppo. Once it reconnected this supply line by force, the price of bread in regime-held neighborhoods dropped tenfold, from 150 SYP to 15 SYP.

6. Citizen mobility most affected in Old City.

Residents in the center of Aleppo’s historic old city areas are pinned down by a conflict that is fought block to block in their neighborhoods. They travel outside their neighborhoods the least by far of any residents in the city and the provision of assistance to those areas can be a challenge.

7. Trash cleanup on the rise.

Trash cleanup has improved citywide since the outbreak of Leishmaniasis in late 2012 and early 2013. Nearly every neighborhood reports trash is being collected three or more times per week.

8. Most vulnerable neighborhoods receiving least assistance.

With the exception of regime-held neighborhoods on the front lines of the conflict, Aleppo’s most vulnerable neighborhoods are receiving the least assistance. This is likely a combination of three factors: first, that the regime is more easily able to navigate the front lines than the those delivering aid in the opposition; second, that the most vulnerable neighborhoods are also the poorest and least equipped to connect to aid agencies, and third, political challenges may add complexity to aid distribution in ethnically mixed communities.

9. Income highly variable in opposition areas.

Opposition-held neighborhoods express significant income variance: the top-five highest income earners and the bottom five lowest income earners are in Aleppo. With “income” integrated into a First Mile Geo composite index by the frequency with which residents receive a monthly salary and basic assistance, residents in opposition-held neighborhoods often either receive both salaries and assistance, or neither.

10. Regime controls some of most vulnerable, but safest areas.

While the regime controls several of the most vulnerable neighborhoods in Aleppo as assessed through a weighted index, they also control all of the top ten safest neighborhoods in the city.