Five years of conflict in Syria led to an estimated 2.3 million deaths or injuries, and displaced over 12 million people. The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 55 per cent and total losses incurred during this period are estimated at $259.6 billion. More than 80 per cent of the population is now living below the poverty line. Millions are deprived of the essential necessities of life. Schools and hospitals have seized to operate leading to worsening of education and health outcomes.
A joint report by “The National Agenda for the Future of Syria” (NAFS) at ESCWA and The Centre for Syrian Studies (CSS) at the University of St Andrews, entitled “Syria at War: Five Years On” lays out these numbers and focuses on the socioeconomic ramifications of the conflict in Syria five years on. Launched on 25 April 2016 in the London-based Chatham House in the presence of ESCWA Deputy Executive Secretary Abdallah Al Dardari, the report examines the European Union’s (EU) humanitarian cooperation with Syria and the region, the flow of refugees and migrants to Syria’s neighbours and Europe, and the impact of the unilateral economic measures on the Syrian people. It also identifies guiding principles and key critical steps for post-conflict Syria.
According to the report, the EU could boost cooperation with Syria and Syria’s neighbouring countries by increasing support for refugee communities there. Moreover, increased coordination between Member States would do much to improve the situation of refugees and migrants. Early labor market integration and social integration are key to good economic and social future. The delivery of humanitarian aid must be eased under the current unilateral EU and United States (US) economic measures, and a viable mechanism for transferring funds into Syria established.
The guiding principles and critical steps outlined in this report focus on reconstruction and development. It follows that the first guiding principle proposed in the report is that Syria should remain an indivisible entity in which all citizens have equal rights and responsibilities, and equal opportunities for political and economic empowerment. Initial post conflict efforts need to concentrate on the most vulnerable population groups, including refugees. The recommendations in this report should be seen as tentative, the only imperative being the need to respond effectively.
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