Syria’s devastation by the numbers

A report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research commissioned by the UN paints a bleak picture of Syria’s socioeconomic plight, with about 2% of citizens killed, maimed or injured and more than 7 million forced to leave their homes.

al-monitor A man carries a wounded girl who survived what activists say was an airstrike on Aleppo by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Dec. 9, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah.

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united nations, unrwa, syrian crisis, syria, refugees, bashar al-assad

Dec 17, 2013

Syrian opposition activists celebrated the first “1,000 Days of the Revolution” by recalling images and video clips of the demonstrations from the revolution’s early days, thus giving a rosy picture of the popular movement. But the reality on the ground is different. It is a bleak picture of blood and ruin that has resulted in a social rift that may take a long time to heal.

A thousand days have passed in Syria, during which time armed groups have emerged trying to divide up among themselves the areas outside government control. Radical groups have set up their own fiefdoms. Jihadists of different nationalities roam the streets of Syrian cities as they dream of entering “paradise” through the Syrian gate. Children have started carrying weapons and warlords are taking part in the devastation.

There’s a story that in Homs a child has died from the cold. And there’s another story that land in the east has become polluted by oil. Now the wheat-producing region is hungry and looking for a loaf of bread. It is trembling from the cold. And its sons, its wealth and its 7,000-year-old civilization are being bled dry.

The figures may help showcase the depth of the Syrian wound. According to a recent study by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the Syrian refugees are “the fastest-growing refugee population in the world. If this pace continues, they will be the world’s largest contemporary refugee population by the end of 2013.”

The Syrians are being spread out throughout the world, where they are put up in tents that do not protect from the summer’s heat or from winter storms such as Alexa.

The report describes the situation of the Syrians by saying, “By the first half of 2013, the population of Syria had been hollowed out by 8% and more than a third (36.9%) left their normal place of residence, while 1.73 million refugees fled the country, [an additional] 1.37 million emigrated and a further 4.8 million people have been internally displaced.”

The report, titled "War on Development" and conducted by the Syrian Center for Policy Research on behalf of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), tries to draw a picture of the Syrian situation using numbers. It shows that “more than half the population now live in poverty, with 7.9 million people having become poor since the beginning of the crisis, of whom 4.4 million now live in extreme poverty.” It shows that the unemployment rate has reached 48.6% and more than 2.33 million people have lost their jobs, which means that the livelihood of nearly 10 million people is in danger.

Regarding the Syrian casualties, the report said: “The appalling loss of human life is the most horrendous aspect of the armed conflict. Conflict-related deaths grew by 67% in the first half of 2013, reaching an estimated 100,000 deaths over the course of the conflict. It is estimated that another 400,000 people have been maimed or injured during the conflict. Thus, more than 2% of the population has been killed, maimed or wounded.”

About the educational situation, the report said: “Education is in the midst of a silent disaster. The school dropout rate reached 49%, indicating that almost half of all Syrian school children are no longer being formally educated. At the same time, the educational system lost almost 3,000 schools as a result of damage and destruction, while another 683 provide shelter for internally displaced persons. There is also a shortage of teachers as thousands have joined the throng of refugees and internally displaced persons.”

In the health sector, the report said: “Some 57 hospitals are damaged and 37 are out of service, while 593 primary care centers — which are the main source of medicines to the chronically ill — are affected; 359 centers are out of service, 203 are unsafe and 31 are damaged.” The report also said that in July 2013 there were about 4,000 persons per doctor, compared to 661 persons per doctor in 2010.

On the economic front, the picture is not much better. The report points out that the Syrian economy is facing the disintegration of the industrial sector and the flight of investment on a large scale due to the closing of businesses, bankruptcy, capital migration, looting and destruction. Total economic losses have reached $103.1 billion by the second quarter of 2013, which is equivalent to 174% of gross domestic product in 2010. The report added: “As the formal economy has imploded, there has been a growth in informality, rent-seeking activities, criminal enterprise and economies of violence that will plague post-conflict economic regulation, reform, equity and development.”

The above is just a small inventory of the first 1,000 days of the Syrian revolution. This period has carried with it a lot of pain and brought Syria back to the Middle Ages. These 1,000 days have left no family without a martyr or someone injured. They have been more like 1,000 years. In those 1,000 days, Syria has seen cannibals, those who kill on the basis of identity and refugees packed in tents. Those 1,000 days have turned Syria into a football being kicked among the nations, pending the Geneva II conference — which is supposed to close this bleeding wound — that, if it stops bleeding, will leave scars that will last for a long time.

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