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Syrian crisis marks 1,000 days of displacement, economic hardship

English.news.cn   2013-12-12 21:57:49            

DAMASCUS, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- It's been 1,000 days since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in March, 2011, which has resulted in millions of displacements, sluggish economy, infrastructure destruction and the spread of panic due to the daily explosions and mortar attacks.

Uncertainty and apprehension dominated the Syrian people's state of mind amid economic woes, something the Syrians are not familiar to deal with compared with the pre-crisis era.

LARGE-SCALE DISPLACEMENT, DEATH TOLL

The rates of displacement, death toll and destruction the crisis brought about have hit new records in the history of the war-torn country.

Recent statistics show that more than 100,000 people were killed during the crisis; 9.3 million are in need, 4.65 million of whom are children; and 2.2 million Syrians are recorded refugees in neighboring Lebanon and Jordan.

The statistics also mention that around 2.5 million Syrians live in areas cut off by the conflict and 1.9 million Syrian children are out of schools.

With the prolonged crisis showing no sign of tampering down, the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Red Cross (SARC) along with other NGOs have implemented a number of measures to help evacuate the afflicted people from conflict zones.

The latest endeavor took place in the Muadamyeh suburb, west of the Syrian capital Damascus, where more than 5,000 people had been evacuated to safer areas in Damascus.

Those who escape from conflict zones largely settled in schools, which have been turned into shelter centers in Damascus.

In most cases, each family is given one class room, and the food would be distributed by volunteers and those responsible for guarding the schools.

Ammar Gallo, head of the sheltering committee, told Xinhua that "there are 913 schools in Damascus, 14 of which have been turned into shelter centers to receive displaced families. There are also other governmental establishments ready to receive displaced people."

Um Omar, a mother of four children that fled her house in Aleppo told Xinhua that "the clashes were intensified by both sides, one pitted against the other. It's not safe at home due to the frequent fights, so I headed to a school in Damascus. After a week here I heard that my house was leveled to the ground."

HIGH-RATED POVERTY AMID ECONOMIC WOES

Syria is suffering from a sluggish economy after a long-time intense domestic fighting for nearly three years. Latest indicators show the economic activities in the war-torn Syria are still at the bottom although the country is making efforts to boost the ailing economy.

As for Syria's banking industry, local media Al-Thawra newspaper recently reported that Syria's three main banks -- the Real Estate Bank, the Commercial Bank of Syria and the Industrial Bank -- all complained of billions of Syrian pounds in loans and a shortage in liquidity.

The report also mentioned the cessation of production activity in some sectors and the coercive closure of some industrial, commercial, tourist and services establishment.

Syrian Prime Minister Wael Halqi said earlier that the country' s industry infrastructures are also suffering systematic and thoughtful sabotage, especially the damaged oil sector that has transformed Syria from an oil producer to importer, adding that the government pays more than 300 million U.S. dollars per month to import petroleum products to meet citizens' needs.

According to the Central Bank of Syria, Syria's inflation rate has increased to 58.3 percent in the first month of 2013, compared to the same period of 2012, which stands at 26.27 percent.

Um Samer, a 60-year-old woman, complained of the soaring commodity prices, asking: "what could the one who has orphans and rents do? What could the poor do? I swear that all of the shops that I have entered had high prices... The price of egg basket used to be sold at 200 Syrian pounds, and now it's at 460 or more.. . what could we do? We want nothing but the situation to get back to what it used to be. May God protect Syria and our people."

In addition, the Syrian Investment Body said in a recent report that the Syrian crisis has a crippling effect on the labor market, where some 32,385 jobs at the level of licensed projects are lost, and 14,555 jobs are missed in projects under implementation, as well as 5,652 jobs lost in terms of the implemented projects.

Many local groups are establishing projects to help alleviate the suffering of their fellow citizens.

A group of young people has started a humanitarian campaign under the title "No Hunger", with the aim to provide daily food parcels to the poor and displaced Syrian families in certain occasions.

Essam Habbal, one of the organizers of the "No Hunger" campaign told Xinhua that "the distribution process relies largely on Imams and Sheikhs in the nearby mosques as well as local groups in the surrounding areas, and we are ready to offer help to the refugees in shelter centers and we accept help from all authorized humanitarian groups in Syria."

ONGOING MILITARY SHOWDOWN PRIOR TO PEACE TALKS

While the Syrian government is making efforts to revive the economy and promote the livelihood of the Syrians, the Syrian army stressed resolve to keep tracking down the "armed terrorist groups, " the government's preferred term to describe the rebels, who have been overwhelmed by radical fighters affiliated with the al-Qaida terror network.

The Syrian regular troops, backed by pro-government militias, have made a series of significant victories against the rebels in the surrounding areas of Damascus, central Homs and northern Aleppo province.

In recent days, the government military has been on a crushing offensive in the al-Qalamoun region, north of Damascus, where pitch battles are being fought.

Al-Qalamoun, a mountain range in western Syria near the border with Lebanon, is considered a strategic area as it contains the international road connecting Damascus with the central province of Homs and other provinces in the north. It's also a prime location for the Syrian army, who intended to cut off the rebels' supply line from neighboring Lebanon.

However, the rebels are determined to wobble the government's grip on the capital Damascus, raining it with daily mortar shells and staging explosions that have killed hundreds of people over the past year.

Turki Hasan, a military expert and former general, told Xinhua in an interview that recent victories by the Syrian army over rebel groups, mainly in the rugged al-Qalamoun region, could enhance the government's position in the upcoming negotiations in Geneva.

"The rebels attempted to tilt the balance in their favor by dismembering the state and by controlling al-Qalamoun region, to isolate the capital Damascus from central and northern Syria. They eye to tweak the balance before the commencement of the Geneva II conference," he said.

The Geneva II peace conference aims to seek a political solution to the conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the government and the opposition for the full implementation of the Geneva communique, adopted at the Geneva I conference in 2012.

The communique, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council, lays out key steps to end the violence through the formation of a transitional government.

Both the government and the opposition said they would attend the conference; however, both have expressed skepticism about the success of the conference.

The oppositional Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition umbrella group in exile, said they want no role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the transitional period, while the Syrian government said any decisions made during the Geneva II must be approved by al-Assad and voted upon in a popular referendum.

Related:

News Analysis: Iran nuclear deal has positive impacts on Syrian crisis

DAMASCUS, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Iran's nuclear deal reached on Sunday may have positive impacts on the efforts to secure an agreement on a political solution to the Syrian crisis at the planned Geneva II conference, analysts said.

The date for the long-awaited conference, which aims to bring the Syrian government and the opposition to the negotiation table, is set on Jan. 22, 2014, the United Nations announced Monday, one day after the Iran deal was reached.  Full story

Editor: Hou Qiang
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