Our Perspective

January 13 2014

What the international community can do right now on Syria | Sima Bahous

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Women and children sitting at Atme camp in full view of the Turkish border post. Photo: IRIN/ JODI HILTON

The tragic images of death, destruction, and suffering continue to pour out of Syria as the conflict nears the three-year mark.   More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed so far, with 6.5 million people now displaced from their homes by fighting. But Syria's plight is not just one of humanitarian suffering that will end when hostilities cease. With more than 50 percent of Syria’s population now living in poverty, this is a crisis that will have long-term implications for development. Ravaged infrastructure, collapsed services, economic disintegration and rampant unemployment — all a direct toll of the fighting — have now rolled back Syria’s development levels by at least 35 years.   More than 2.3 million Syrians have already sought refuge in neighboring Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt. Refugees now make up approximately 10 percent of Jordan’s population and 20 percent of all people living in Lebanon. This influx is changing the demographic balance in host countries and local communities, which threatens to stoke social tensions and increase competition for already-scarce resources such as land, water and jobs. The potential for instability is great. To prevent the conflict from sowing decades of poverty in the region, the international community must... Read more

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