Syria's crisis enters 4th year with no drastic solution

Updated: 2014-03-16 14:31


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DAMASCUS - Three years has passed since the Syrian crisis began in mid-March 2011. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced. Severe damages have befallen the country's economy, social fabric and last but not least its infrastructure.

The prolonged crisis began with anti-government protests. It rapidly evolved into armed conflicts joined by radical jihadist movements, inflicting negative impact on almost every aspect of Syrians' life.

Humanitarian situation

In a report marking the third anniversary of the Syrian crisis, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said "the situation (in Syria) has developed into a humanitarian disaster of appalling dimensions."

It said more than nine million Syrians are in need of urgent assistance, including 6.5 million people displaced inside their own country. Half of them were children struggling to survive amid the fighting. Another 2.4 million people have fled Syria since January 2012. They are seeking refugee in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Thousands more families have left for countries further afield.

"Today, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate rapidly in large parts of the country," the ICRC said.

The latest UN tally regarding the number of those killed during the conflict stands at 100,000 people.

A study issued last December by local media showed that some two million housing units in Syria have been totally or partially destroyed during the crisis. The reconstruction cost is estimated to be at least $100 billion. Another study said the figure is between $100 and $200 billion, and the reconstruction would require at least six million workers.

Aside from displacement and reconstruction, the conflict also had a huge toll on the health sector of Syria.

Local media reported that most of pharmaceutical plants have shut down because of the grinding crisis in the country. What makes matters worse is the battles in the northern province of Aleppo, where most of the country's pharmaceutical labs locate.

The pro-longed crisis has also contributed to the re-emergence of swine flu and polio cases in Syria. Official estimates said 19 people had recently died of the diseases.

Economic situation

The Syrian crisis has turned its third year with huge economic losses, unprecedented rate of unemployment and low expectations that the country's devastating economy would recover soon.

The crisis has wrecked the country's already-sluggish economy, plunged its currency, increased poverty and shut down many establishments and businesses.

The UN Development Program recently issued a report on the losses during the second quarter last year. It said that damages of the Syrian economy amounted to 103 billion dollars, up from 84 billion in the first quarter of the same year. That's about 200 million dollars of losses per day.

Syria's oil production, which is the most prominent source of it foreign currency, dropped lately to 14,000 barrels per day from the 380,000 barrels of mid-March 2011, down nearly 90 percent.

Gas production is currently estimated at 16.7 million cubic meters per day, compared with 24 million before the crisis broke out.

Western sanctions imposed on Syria have slashed its export earnings from oil, slashing the central bank's firepower to support its currency that has plunged to a record low against the U.S. dollar -- from 47 pounds before the crisis to 155 pounds.

Syrians went through very difficult economic conditions as many of them have lost their jobs. Many factories and enterprises have closed, coupled with a crazy prices increase and a steep depreciation of the Syrian pound against the US dollar.

With regard to poverty and unemployment, the report estimated about 2.33 million Syrians have suffered from severe poverty. This has pushed up the percentage of unemployment to 48.6 percent, and threatened the livelihood of nearly ten million.

Earlier the United National Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) unveiled that 18 million out of the country's 23 million inhabitants are living "below the poverty upper line."

ESCWA said that Syria's total GDP losses had reached around 47.9 billion dollar up to the second quarter last year, adding that the country suffers a growing deficit in trade.

The recession have bloated budget deficit, with inflation running as high as 70 percent last year. Economists warn the Syrian economy will be further ravaged, unless the government takes drastic measures to help it recover once again.

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