BEIRUT — In Syria’s third-largest city, it takes Mohammed’s family a week to do a load of laundry.
“There’s no specific time for the electricity to come,” said Mohammed, speaking by phone from Homs, in the west of the country. “Sometimes it comes for an hour, sometimes it comes for two hours, sometimes it comes for 10 minutes. Sometimes it doesn’t come, at all, all day.”
Mohammed’s mother washes most clothes by hand, leaving those that need heavy-duty washing in the machine, which whirs back to life whenever the power returns.
Already battered by years of war and deprivation, Syrians are now suffering through a crippling fuel crisis. Extended electricity cuts have sunk most of the country into a near-constant blackout. In the capital, Damascus, some neighborhoods receive as little as 15 minutes of power every 24 hours; in more central areas, closer to the presidential palace, the lights stay on for longer. With gasoline also in short supply, main thoroughfares are often devoid of traffic, and the Syrian-Lebanese border has become a thriving black market for fuel.