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For Syrians, things are dire. Private-sector activity has dropped at least 70 percent, say analysts, and employment prospects are dismal.

“I am looking for work, but everything is at a standstill,” said Mohammed, 31, in Damascus, one of the country’s many unemployed graduates. “It’s hardly a search at this point, more like a hobby — I have to continue looking, but I know I won’t find anything.”