News / Middle East

    Syria Suffers Nationwide Power Blackout

    FILE - A group of men walk down a street without electricity late in the besieged rebel bastion of Douma, northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus on Nov. 10, 2014.
    FILE - A group of men walk down a street without electricity late in the besieged rebel bastion of Douma, northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus on Nov. 10, 2014.

    For the first time since the eruption of civil war in 2011, a nationwide electricity blackout hit Syria in the early hours Thursday.

    The country’s official news agency, SANA, reported that the cause of the shutdown is not known and that workers are trying to restore power region-by-region.

    Government experts said they expect to the power to be resorted in the next 12 hours in the entire country.

    Power outage, shortage

    “This is a just technical issue that happens in many countries,” an employee at the Ministry of Electricity told VOA via phone. She refused to give further details.

    Another source at the Ministry of Electricity in the Syrian capital told SANA that experts have been able to restore electricity in several areas of the war-torn country.

    The Syrian government has in the past not acknowledged major infrastructure failures, analysts say.

    “What’s interesting is that the government has made such an announcement for the first time,” said Bangin Hisso, an electricity engineer who has worked for Syria’s department of electricity for a decade.

    A Syrian man installs a homemade hydroelectric generator, assembled by 43-year-old Abu Saleh, in the Queiq river in the rebel held Bustan al-Qasr district in the east of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Nov. 26, 2015.
    A Syrian man installs a homemade hydroelectric generator, assembled by 43-year-old Abu Saleh, in the Queiq river in the rebel held Bustan al-Qasr district in the east of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Nov. 26, 2015.

    “In the past, the government would just ignore the fact they had power shortages. But because this is a nationwide blackout, it had to say something to the people,” Hisso told VOA.

    Despite the ongoing civil war in many parts of the country, the Syrian government has been able to continue providing electricity to residents – even in areas under opposition and Islamic State control.

    Electric distribution

    However, the quantity of electricity has varied from region to another, and that has depended on political and military circumstances of the civil war, locals say.

    FILE - A man tries to fix electrical wires in the Salaheddin neighborhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Jan. 27, 2014.
    FILE - A man tries to fix electrical wires in the Salaheddin neighborhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Jan. 27, 2014.

    “The amount of electricity Syrian get depends on where they live,” said engineer Hisso. “If you live in an area control by Daesh [IS], you get two hours [of electricity] every day. If you live in a Kurdish area, you might get up to three hours every day.”

    He said in government-held areas, residents have the privilege of receiving up to 12 hours of electricity intermittently on a daily basis.

    Since the onset of the war, many Syrians have relied on local electricity providers that offer around six hours of power daily. Due to high pricing, most residents cannot afford the local service. 

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