Tuesday, August 27, 2013

'A Slow Death': How the War Is Destroying Syria's Economy

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013   No comments

Food is scarce in Syria, the currency is collapsing and entire industries have come to a standstill. But not even economic suffering brought on by the civil war will likely help end it.

It's a sector that ought to be booming. Businessman Wissam* works in hospital supplies. He sells bandages, needles and disinfectants -- all products for which there is a great need in the increasingly bloody Syrian civil war. But unfortunately, Wissam has little opportunity to sell his wares.

"More than 50 percent of the Syrian healthcare system's infrastructure has been destroyed," says the man in his mid 40s. Of the 75 state-run hospitals, just 30 remain in operation. In the embattled city of Homs, just one of 20 hospitals remains open. The Al-Kindi Hospital in Aleppo, once the largest and most modern medical facility in the country, is now a pile of ash.

Wissam is matter-of-fact about the situation. The destruction of the hospitals is widespread, he says, and those who are injured or sick receive hardly any medical care. The business is "dying a slow death," he adds.

While the world debates what its reaction should be to what was likely a chemical weapons attack in Syria last week, and the United States positions its destroyers off the country's coast, much of the focus has been on the humanitarian crisis caused by two-and-a-half years of war. But the fighting has also crippled Syria's economy, which could potentially be a factor in ending the turmoil.

For this reason, facts and figures about the economic impact of the war are state secrets. There are, however, indications of how precarious the situation may be, and these reflect what Wissam says about the collapse of the health sector.

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