LIfe in ISIS Territory: Basic Human Needs and Laws

This is part of a series called Life in ISIS Territory that we previously published a year ago. Through various interviews, we spoke to youth from Raqqa about what life is like. This is only one topic covered within the Life in ISIS Territory report. To learn more and to read the entire series, click here.

Basic Human Needs in ISIS Territory:




Food and some other basic goods have tripled their prices, according to some sources. The price of food is quite steep for some people, and those who cannot afford it see no other way to get money but to join ISIS. The price change was most likely due to the closing of the Turkish border, which has stopped a great flow of food in Syria. Now, it appears that most of the food comes from Iraq, and the prices are rising daily. Water is available, but it stops for some periods and sometimes not clean. According to C, many people are getting sick from it. Its pressure is not high, and “does not reach the upper floors of buildings”.

Under ISIS control, the number of “doctors at the Raqqa National hospital are few, and they have little medicine”. Medical infrastructures of Raqqa and Mosul are not efficient alone. One of our unofficial interviewees has told us a story that may explain this better. A girl who needed surgery needed to go to Damascus to receive her treatment, however, she was not allowed to go there. Instead of getting her the treatment she needed, they changed her name to “Ruqayya” (meaning: recovery) and had an Imam to pray for her.

In terms of electricity, the informations we received have been discordant about the number of hours in which it’s available, but they all range from 2 to 6. Internet connection is present, as “people inside Raqqa call it the “City of technology”, because if you search for Wifi networks, you will find five or six of them”. That being said, Internet cafes are subjected to the control of ISIS. Some militants occasionally or stably occupy them, and control what the people are talking about, “and there [has been] so many detention cases in Raqqa because of that kind of observation”. Many civilians use satellite connection, as one of our interviewees has said 70%. TV is visible at home, and every channel is available as before.

Laws in ISIS Territory:

Executions are done publicly, in the middle of crowded places. They are done mostly by the sword. (Check the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently site for more details). Furthermore, no one is allowed to film anything, only ISIS’ media center can. Wearing jeans and shaving have also become forbidden, so all men must grow their beards now. No alcohol or smoking is permitted. Any of these infractions would be punished severely. For example, smoking a cigarette can cost you one month of detention and 80 lashes. We have gotten our hands on a list of laws which can be seen below.

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