Businesses across Syria have been devastated by the destruction inflicted by the traumatic three-year civil war, and the economy could take 30 years to recover to its pre-conflict level, a United Nations survey warns.
The fighting “saw the economy lose a total of $84.4 billion over the first two years of the conflict… Even if the conflict ceased now and GDP (gross domestic product) grew at an average rate of five per cent each year, it is estimated that it would take the Syrian economy 30 years to return to the economic level of 2010,” it said in the study published on Wednesday.
During the war, Syria has experienced “massive de-industrialisation, dilapidation and degradation,” the study said.
Businesses have closed or gone bankrupt, and those that haven’t have been looted or destroyed by war, the study said. Capital flight – people getting their money out of the country – has been massive.
“This is the first study of its kind and provides hard statistical evidence of the tragic and widespread impact the conflict is having on lives and livelihoods across Syria,” said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which undertook the survey as part of its responsibilities for assisting Palestinian refugees.
The survey polled clients of the agency’s micro-finance loan program in Syria and found that nearly three-quarters had been displaced from their homes. In the Yarmouk district of Damascus, a heavily Palestinian area that once held 160,000 residents, 89 per cent of residents had fled, the survey found.
Nearly 56 per cent of those surveyed said their homes had been damaged and 14 per cent said their homes had been destroyed.
The report based its survey on a random sample taken from among 8000 business people, both Palestinians and Syrians, participated in the micro-finance program. Of those, 840 were selected to take part in the current survey; 541 fully completed the poll.
UN economists estimated that since the outbreak of violence more than three years ago, 2.3 million jobs had been lost, “with the welfare of almost 10 million dependents jeopardised.”