Syria Political Round-Up, Oct 26: A Devastated Economy

LATEST: Kerry Says Aid Must Get to Civilians…But Doesn’t Say How / SUMMARY: A report commissioned by United Nations agencies has claimed Syria’s economy is in a state of “spectacular collapse”.

The report said the country’s Gross Domestic Product contracted by 34.3% percent in the first quarter of 2013, and 39.6% in the second, compared to the same periods in 2012.

“More than half the population now live in poverty, with 7.9 million people becoming poor since the beginning of the crisis, of whom 4.4 million now live in extreme poverty,” the report said. Unemployment is now 48.6%. The health sector faces “significant collapse”, and 49% of children are out of school, and the health sector faces “significant collapse”. Syria suffered a total economic loss of $103.1 billion — 147% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in 2010 — by the first quarter of 2013 with a “massive de-industrialization as a result of business closure and bankruptcy, capital flight, looting and destruction”. The report was commissioned by the UN Development Fund and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, and was prepared by the Damascus-based Syrian Center for Policy Research.

Kerry Says Aid Must Get to Civilians…But Doesn’t Say How

US Secretary of State John Kerry has used the Foreign Policy website to appeal for delivery of aid to Syrians under siege:

The world must act quickly and decisively to get life-saving assistance to the innocent civilians who are bearing the brunt of the civil war. To do anything less risks a “lost generation” of Syrian children traumatized, orphaned, and starved by this barbaric war. Kerry criticizes “the Assad government” for “refusing to register legitimate aid agencies…blocking assistance at its borders…requiring UN convoys to travel circuitous routes through scores of checkpoints to reach people in need…[and] systematically block[ing] food shipments to strategically located districts, leading to a rising toll of death and misery”.

However, he does not say how the situation can be changed so the regime will permit aid to reach those are malnourished and at risk of starvation, such as the people of the besieged Damascus suburb of Moadamiyyat Ash Sham:

About the Author –  Scott Lucas Scott Lucas is a professor of American Studies at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA