News / Middle East

UN Experts Estimate Syrian Reconstruction at $80 Billion - So Far

Syrian government airstrikes continue to destroy Aleppo suburbs, June 30, 2012, while officials in Damascus estimate damage to more than 9,000 government structures in the past two years.
Syrian government airstrikes continue to destroy Aleppo suburbs, June 30, 2012, while officials in Damascus estimate damage to more than 9,000 government structures in the past two years.
David Arnold
A team of United Nations experts estimates that the 28-month civil war in Syria has already caused as much as $80 billion in damage to the nation’s economy.
 
The estimate assumes a quick end to the 28-month civil war, which is considered highly unlikely.
 
President Bashar al-Assad’s government estimates the damage to Syria’s public sector at about $15 billion, including damage to about 9,000 buildings. A week ago, Prime Minister Wael al-Haqi told the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency a week ago that the Syrian economy is “strong and balanced.”
 
But outside experts, including the authors of the U.N. study, paint a much grimmer picture.
 
The Syrian economy has shrunk by 35 percent and lost 40 percent of its gross domestic product, according to the study prepared for the U.N. Economic and Social Commission in Western Asia. It said foreign currency reserves had dropped from $17 billion to $4.5 billion and that unemployment had increased five-fold, from 500,000 to more than 2.5 million.
 
Syria’s currency, the pound, was trading at 47 pounds to the U.S. dollar before  the civil war, but was trading at 200 pounds to the dollar last week.

Lead author of the U.N. study was Abdullah al-Dardari, President Assad’s deputy prime minister and minister of economics until a cabinet shift at the start of the revolution in March, 2010. He spoke about the U.N. assessment with the Associated Press in Amman last week.
 
A separate study by the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East was even more dire in its conclusions, saying that the Syrian economy was in “total disarray.”
 
“Syria now has all the characteristics of a collapsed economy, with falling economic activity and trade, inflation that is likely to move into hyper-inflation, and the government finances its spending through printing money, and a currency that is depreciating at a breakneck pace,” wrote Atlantic Council fellows Mohain Khan and Faysal Itani.
 
One of Syria’s strongest supporters in the region, Iran, recently offered the Assad regime a credit line of $1 billion to shore up the Syrian pound. But Iran’s financial boost was only temporary, said the Atlantic Council report’s authors.
 
Syria’s bankers are finding it difficult to serve their customers, Middle East banking consultant Andrew Cunningham said over the weekend. He said the civil war is forcing many Syrians to resort to a cash economy and do business with street money exchangers instead of banks, which are under state control.
 
On March 5, Bank Bemo Saudi Fransi, the nation’s first privately-owned commercial bank in 40 years, lost 25 million Syria pounds when an armed gang attacked one of the bank’s convoys in Damascus.
 
Cunningham said the conflict has forced some banks to close their branch offices and many of their ATM machines.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid