War in Syria costing £3.2bn a month

War is costing Syria more than £3.2bn (US$4.5bn) each month in lost economic growth, a report from children’s charity World Vision and Frontier Economics reveals.

The charity is now urging the UK government to lead a reconstruction plan for Syria, which will be ‘ready to go’ when the war ends.

The cost of conflict for children: five years of the Syria crisis is released today as the war approaches its fifth anniversary. The report estimates the devastating economic fall-out from the conflict could eventually reach £485bn (US$689), even if the fighting ends this year. That figure could spiral to around £915bn (US$1.3trillion) if the war continues for another five years.

World Vision is calling on the international community to prepare now for Syria’s eventual recovery. It believes the world must not wait for the war to end - as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan - before planning the country’s reconstruction.

Tim Pilkington, Chief Executive for World Vision UK, says: “The war in Syria has shattered the lives of over eight million children.  With their homes, schools and hospitals bombed and their friends and families killed, many have been forced into appalling living conditions and abject poverty.

“When we meet severely distressed children who’ve fled sniper fire and bombing, our first concern is to keep them fed, clothed and alive. Faced with their suffering it’s hard to think in terms of cold economic costs.

“But financial loss translates into human loss - lost education, lost health, lost jobs and lost opportunities. The costs of the conflict are staggering. Unless we act now, this war won’t just affect a generation of children, but their children’s children.

 “We cannot wait until the war is over to plan for their future. Every month the conflict costs Syria more than Britain’s entire monthly budget for schools and education. Even if the fighting stopped tomorrow it would take at least 15 years to rebuild the country - an entire lost childhood.

“We must prepare the ground for peace now. The longer it takes to rebuild Syria the greater the challenge and the higher the costs. The world must not repeat the post-war planning failures made in recent conflicts.

“The UK has led the international community in humanitarian relief for millions of Syrian children and adults who have fled this vicious war. It would be a natural step for the UK government to bring nations together on a historic restoration plan for Syria that will benefit us all.”

The report looks at Syria’s lost economic growth due to a combination of factors. They include the destruction of productive capacity, disruption of investments, and diversion of public spending direct to military and security. It finds the country’s economic free-fall has led to a collapse in vital services for children.

• Syria’s education has been hit hard. One in four schools are destroyed, damaged or being used to shelter displaced people. About 5.7 million children inside Syria have disrupted schooling and only 48 per cent of Syrian refugee children are getting an education. Around 25 million years of schooling have been lost so far. The loss of lifelong earnings for those children no longer attending school is estimated at £7.4m.
• The conflict has all but broken Syria’s health system. Half of the country’s certified doctors have fled the country and less than half (43%) of its hospitals are functional. Estimated life expectancy at birth has dropped by 15 years. Millions of children under five are suffering or are at risk of physical trauma, injuries, communicable diseases, lack of immunisations and malnutrition.

The five year war is also causing severe economic shock to Syria’s neighbours. In Lebanon, real GDP per capita is nearly 23 per cent lower than it would have been in the absence of the conflict. Jordan has also suffered an estimated 12 per cent drop in its population’s living standards as a result of the war.

Read the full report

The cost of conflict for children: five years of the Syria crisis »

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