Aid groups say broken infrastructure could harm Syria for decades

Oct. 25, 2013 at 3:37 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The needs of the more than 4 million Syrians who remain in their country are overwhelming and could set back development for decades, aid officials say.

Interal conflict that broke out in 2011 has left an estimated $30 billion damage to homes and infrastructure and a severe lack of food has residents eating dogs and cats, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressed "deep disappointment and frustration" Thursday about the lack of a "proper" reaction by the international community to the humanitarian crisis in Syrian.

Aid officials in the region note the United Nations, working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and local organizations, has undertaken a $1.5 billion effort to provide food, clothing and medicine to millions of Syrians. But, the officials add, the project covers only a fraction of the needs and doesn't address the collapse of the country's health, education and economic infrastructure, and what that means for the future of the country.

Counting those who have fled the country, more than 2 million Syrian children have not had any schooling for the past year, said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, Unicef's Syria director.

Three million Syrians are being fed every month by the World Food Program. Still, 2 million displaced people get no food and, in some pockets of conflict, no food deliveries has been made in months, said Matthew Hollingsworth, the program's Syria director.

Filling medical prescriptions once provided by the government would cost $500 million a year, said Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the World Health Organization.

Should the war persist for another year, Syria "will be reduced to the bottom of the development ladder, along with countries like Somalia and Yemen," said Omar Abdelaziz al-Hallaj, an independent Syrian adviser.

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