Sanctions, civil strife pushes majority of Syrians into poverty

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A Syrian child is seen with her family who fled from the Syrian town of Qusair near Homs, at the Lebanese-Syrian border village of Qaa, eastern Lebanon, on 5 March. Photo - Hussein Malla/Associated Press

An official report released suggested that poverty rates in Syria have gone up since last year’s uprising against President Bashar Al Assad. The findings said Syrians are enduring harsh economic conditions and are the primary victims of international sanctions. Western countries insist they imposed the economic embargo to topple the Baathist regime.

According to a report compiled and issued by the Professional Union of Electricity and Mining Industry Worker Syndicates, poverty rate in Syria stands at 41%. The findings revealed that the government’s 10th five-year plan, which aimed at the creation of 625,000 job opportunities, was able to create only 277,000 jobs.

An 2004 report compiled by the Syrian government in collaboration with the UN Development Programme, titled “Poverty in Syria 1994-2004,” indicated that 30% of Syrians live under the poverty line. Many economic analysts insist the Al Assad regime failed to improve the situation during the 2006-2010 five-year plan.

The report urged the Syrian government to support small and medium-sized enterprises and the handicrafts profession, which employs a large portion of society, in its bid to revive the strife-torn economy.

UN Help

Recent reports said The United Nations is drafting a major aid operation titled “Syria Response Plan” which forms the basis of a $180 million appeal presented to donor countries last Friday.

The UN team assessed that at least one million Syrians need humanitarian aid in 10 provinces which are suffering from food and medicinal shortages.

“Jobs and livelihoods have been disrupted, the cost of … goods has risen and many can no longer meet their basic daily needs or access essential social services due to insecurity and financial strain,” a UN assessment report said.

“…housing, infrastructure and social service facilities have sustained significant damage in areas where armed hostilities have taken place, while shortages of fuel have affected electricity and water supplies,” it added.

Sewage networks have been damaged many strife-hit areas, contaminating water as a result. Garbage heaps have also piled up due to disruption in trash collection. The UN report also expressed fears of outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera.

The UN’s humanitarian aid report included a six-month plan that laid out 46 projects across 11 sectors including food, health, shelter, and water and sanitation.

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