A new United Nations-backed report details the economic and societal devastation of the four-year war in Syria, where the violence of a multiparty civil conflict has become further inflamed by a multinational battle against Islamic State militants.
The report, released Tuesday, says the war has cost the Syrian economy an estimated $202.6 billion dollars and brought "drastic levels of inequality and inequity" to people across the country who struggle to find food.
U.N. report on Syria, March, 2015
The result has been a spike in unemployment, which shot from about 15 percent at the start of the war in 2011 to nearly 58 percent by the end of last year. That left almost 4 million people out of work in a country where the population has also dropped from about 21 million to 17.5 million since the fighting began.
"The ruinous decent into poverty in Syria continued in 2014 when just over four in every five Syrians lived in poverty," the report said.
There has been no real progress in bringing a political resolution to the conflict. The fighting has killed 220,000 people, sent 3.8 million refugees into neighboring countries and forced another 6.8 million to flee their homes within Syria.
The Syrian Center for Policy Research authored the report, supported by the U.N. Development Program and the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, which operates camps within Syria.
According to the report, the years of violence have had a particular effect on Syrian children, with half of them no longer attending school and many missing three years of classes. The U.N. said in December that a quarter of the country's schools had been damaged or destroyed, along with half of its hospitals.
"Equally horrendous is the silent disaster that has reduced life expectancy at birth from 75.9 years in 2010 to an estimated 55.7 years at the end of 2014," the report says, "reducing longevity and life expectancy by 27 percent."
Meanwhile, a graphic exhibit opened Tuesday at the U.N. headquarters in New York displaying some of the 55,000 pictures from a former Syrian military photographer that show individuals allegedly tortured, starved and killed by the Syrian government.
The United States, Britain, France and other nations are sponsoring the exhibit, which comes nearly a year after the photos were first shown to the U.N. Security Council as part of an effort to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
That bid failed with vetoes from Russia and China. But next week the U.N.'s commission of inquiry on Syria is expected to announce if it will release the names of a secret list of alleged Syrian war criminals in a new bid to bring suspects to justice.