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Civil war leaves Syrian economy, cities in ruins

By Zeina Karam

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

Manna said the opposition's $100 billion damage estimate — which is double the size of Syria's GDP at the end of 2010 — includes the physical destruction as well as losses from tourism and oil sectors, the sharp fall in productivity and soaring unemployment from job losses.

Syria has only to look to neighboring Lebanon for lessons on reconstruction. Following that country's 1975-90 civil war, the government borrowed heavily from abroad. It accumulated a debt of about $52 billion, or about 130 percent of the country's GDP, that Lebanon struggles with to this day.

Osama Kadi, general coordinator for the Syrian Economic Task Force, is confident that won't happen with Syria, which has a more diversified economy than Lebanon. He said the group has been lobbying the international community to organize a donor conference to convene less than a week after the collapse of the Assad regime.

"Our estimate is that in the first six months, around $40 billion will need to be spent on reconstruction to allow for refugees and internally displaced people to return to their homes," he said.

He said that with Syrian businessmen and Gulf countries willing to invest in Syria, a future government would not have to borrow heavily.

Deep divisions among Syria's opposition and rebel groups are likely to complicate any international efforts to help in reconstruction. Syrians also are convinced they will get little outside help to rebuild, just as they have had to fight Assad's regime without a lot of foreign assistance.

"We have a long way ahead before we put the country back together again," Abdul-Hamid said. "But once we do, and we will, it will be our achievement."

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