A member of the Damascus governorate, Samir Dakak, has revealed that the office in charge of burying the dead in Damascus is charging four million Syrian pounds to allot citizens a grave in Damascus city, describing it as a necessary “donation” to the Agency for the Deaths of Impoverished Muslims.
On Thursday, Al-Watan newspaper quoted Dakak as saying that, “no citizen was allotted a grave without making this compulsory donation. If there is no donation, then no grave is allotted.”
Damascus cemeteries are overcrowded, which has delayed graves being obtained for those who need them immediately. Most Damascus residents are trying to secure graves before they die, which is unfair, and most graves now have two or more levels because of the lack of space in the well-known Damascus cemeteries.
According to the Damascus governorate’s numbers, there are about 130,000 graves inside Damascus city, and currently there is not enough space for these sites to expand. This has forced those in charge to slightly move each of the existing graves, to make more room.
Families of the deceased face major difficulties in obtaining graves inside Damascus cemeteries, of which there are 33. This relates to the incredible prices that families must pay in order to obtain a grave.
Before 2011, the price of a grave was around 20,000 pounds, but it now ranges between two million to four million Syrian pounds, which is a massive amount for most Syrians, especially those who have lost their homes and their jobs.
The Damascus governorate refuses to acknowledge this inflation in the price of graves and says that selling them is not permitted, and at the same time encourages burying the dead in cemeteries outside Damascus.
In addition to the price of graves, residents also complain about a major and surprise rise in rates charged by the office for burying the dead, which have risen sharply.
The price of burying the dead in Damascus is equivalent to a civil servant’s salary for two months (which would be at the highest 30,000), as the cost ranges between 30,000 to 50,000 pounds.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.