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facts about poverty in SyriaSince the beginning of the crisis in 2011, poverty in Syria has dramatically increased due to violence and a collapsed economy. Below are 10 facts about poverty in Syria.

  1. Before the crisis, Syria was a middle-income country. Now, more than 80 percent of people are living in poverty, perhaps the most severe of these facts about poverty in Syria. Within Syria’s shattered economy, 70 percent of people lack regular access to clean water and 95 percent lack satisfactory healthcare. From 2011 to 2016, cumulative GDP loss is estimated at $226 billion.
  2. Since the war began, an estimated 470,000 people have been killed. Of those, 55,000 have been children. Since foreign powers have joined the conflict, the war has become even deadlier.
  3. Before the civil war, Syria was polio-free. However, in 2017, 74 cases of polio were detected.
  4. Since December 2017, an estimated 212,000 people have fled their homes. Most displaced people are living with insufficient access to aid in makeshift shelters. Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, is a particular area of intense fighting unreached by aid. In total since the beginning of the crisis, more than 11 million Syrians have fled their homes to other Syrian cities or to neighboring countries.
  5. Turkey currently hosts the highest number of Syrian refugees at 3.5 million. However, 90 percent of them in Turkey live outside of aid camps and have limited access to basic services.
  6. Children lack educational opportunities and the war has reversed two decades of education progress. More than two million Syrian children are no longer in school. One-third of schools are not in use due to damage.
  7. Children are often seen as a nation’s hope for a better future, but these children have undergone high amounts of stress through having lost loved ones, suffering injuries, missing years of schooling, and experiencing violence and brutality. In addition, children are particularly vulnerable to health risks, abuse or exploitation. Many are drafted into the war or captured on the long trips they must make to safety.
  8. The war has destroyed Syria’s agricultural infrastructure and irrigation systems resulting in decreased food production. Wheat has dramatically suffered from both conflict and low rainfall. Since 2010, the overall food production in Syria has dropped by 40 percent.
  9. Since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, Syrian humanitarian needs have increased twelve-fold. An estimated 13.1 million people are in need, and close to three million people are trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas. Of these, more than 90 percent are in Eastern Ghouta.
  10. Charity organizations across the globe are working to help the millions of Syrians affected by the war. Five of the top charity groups are UNICEF, Save The Children, Syrian American Medical Society, The White Helmets and International Rescue Committee.

These facts about poverty in Syria illustrate the need for more help. Humanitarian organizations are struggling to meet the needs that continue to grow. In 2017, $4.6 billion was required to give emergency support and stabilization to families throughout the region. Only half was received. To build resilience against poverty in Syria and to increase peaceful communities, it is essential to increase funding.

– Anne-Marie Maher

Photo: Flickr

Damage to Infrastructure in Syria Entering Seventh Year of WarWarring factions in the six-year Syrian civil war have deliberately targeted both civilians and civilian infrastructure. While the international Commission of Inquiry on Syria has called the establishment of safe zones for civilians “a step in the right direction,” the lack of infrastructure has not allowed for improved delivery of humanitarian aid.

The prolonged crisis, which has resulted in massive displacement of refugees both within the country and internationally, has resulted in the destruction of infrastructure systems including provision of water, electricity and sanitation. Additionally, social infrastructure such as schools and healthcare centers have been severely damaged or destroyed altogether. Without these systems, civilians have experienced increasingly vulnerable living conditions in affected communities.

A World Bank report issued in July 2017 estimated that, as of early 2017, the Syrian civil war has damaged or destroyed about a third of the housing stock and about half of medical and education facilities, and led to significant economic loss. The destruction of physical infrastructure, though, does not attest to the full toll of the war. World Bank called the visible impacts only “the tip of the iceberg.”

To calculate the extent of the damage, the report used satellite imagery in conjunction with traditional and social media postings for information on the state of the country. The specific targeting of health and education infrastructure in Syria has resulted in significant disruptions with communicable diseases reemerging. The warring factions often use schools as military installations as well.

Often overlooked, solid waste management systems continue to be one of the most affected services reliant on infrastructure in Syria. The equipment and heavy machinery used for waste removal has been looted, destroyed or not functioning due to lack of maintenance and parts. As a result, waste piles in the streets serve as breeding grounds for rodents and insects, polluting the environment and increasing the risk of disease.

The World Bank estimates that by comparing current circumstances with a projection of how Syria would have developed in the absence of conflict, the war has caused a loss of $226 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This total comes to around four times the entire Syrian GDP in 2010.

The United Nations Development Programme aims to stabilize local communities and promote the return of internally displaced individuals by restoring and repairing basic social infrastructure and services in severely affected areas. However, the U.N.’s ability to distribute aid has been severely limited by the Syrian government, armed groups, continued insecurity and fighting. Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ursula Meuller, told the U.N. Security Council, “despite reductions in violence, we have not been able to noticeably increase our reach.”

With more than 13 million Syrians in need of aid, more needs to be done to restore infrastructure in Syria and provide access to food, health care and other basic needs.

– Richa Bijlani

Photo: Flickr