Wednesday, February 20, 2019 | ePaper

Cost of Syria war destruction at $388b, says UN

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AFP, Beirut :
Seven years of relentless conflict in Syria have wreaked destruction that the United Nations said Wednesday had cost the country close to a whopping $400 billion.
The figure was released after a two-day meeting of more than 50 Syrian and international experts in neighbouring Lebanon, hosted by the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
ESCWA said the "volume of destruction in physical capital and its sectoral distribution" had been estimated at more than $388 billion. It said the figure did not include "human losses resulting from deaths or the loss of human competences and skilled labour due to displacement, which were considered the most important enablers of the Syrian economy." More than half of Syria's pre-war population has fled the country or been displaced internally over the past seven years. Russia's 2015 military intervention helped a spectacular recovery by government forces, which have regained significant ground in recent months. Terrorist and rebel forces remain in some pockets, but with the military balance hugely in the regime's favour, efforts have already been shifting toward reconstruction.
Christian Science Monitor adds: One reason that recent wars have lasted so long is that so little remains understood about how to build a stable peace. Half of the world's current armed conflicts have lasted for more than 20 years. More than half of conflicts that ended in the early 2000s have since relapsed. Reversing this recent record will require a reassessment of past methods aimed at taming mass violence.
A good place to bring fresh thinking is in Syria. Its war is "only" seven years old. Yet the toll in lives (more than 350,000) and displaced civilians (12 million) give it a special urgency. Most of the pro-democracy rebels fighting against a ruthless Assad regime have been defeated. And the territory once occupied by the Islamic State has been retaken. Many powerful nations, such as Iran, Turkey, Russia, and Israel, claim a stake in a post-conflict Syria. For its part, the United States has just reimposed sanctions on Iran in part to get its forces and allies out of Syria as a protection for Israel.
A political settlement in Syria calls for peacemaking on a new order, one that will require opponents with very little trust in each other to negotiate. "There will be times when we have to hold our nose and support dialogue with those who oppose our values, or who may have committed war crimes," said Alistair Burt, a British Foreign Office minister, in a recent talk about a new government report on ways to end the world's current conflicts.

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