The Arab Spring protests reached Syria in March 2011, the pro-democracy uprising, initially demanding reforms, soon turned into a civil war and violence escalated as a result of the government forces utilizing brutality to suppress the civil movement. More than seven years of conflict lead to the deaths of over 400,000 Syrians; millions were forcibly displaced, and the country is devastated economically. Since the beginning of the conflict, more than four million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and an estimated 6.1 million people have been displaced within Syria, bringing the total number of expelled Syrians to a staggering 11.5 million (UNHCR 2017).
“Do certain images of injured kids stay in my mind more than others? If you asked me that two years ago, then I could probably give an answer. But today, after witnessing the huge number of massacres that I have, it’s very hard to think of one specific instance. It’s become a daily occurrence. Now images stay in my mind for a short while before they slip away, to take their place alongside all the others. My own personal graveyard.” AFP Photographer Abd Doumany
We now know the pattern of besiegement in Syria and so we know what is to come in Aleppo. Government forces surround an area of a city and cut off all food and supplies. The population weakens and thins, the elderly dying first and then next the children, often from water-borne diseases. The United Nations stands by, failing again in its humanitarian obligations through its obsequiousness to a government whose crimes long ago stripped it of any legitimacy. The West and Russia can drop bombs but not food. Support cannot go to those who might be able to break the siege because of their ideology; instead it just sloshes into a corrupt morass outside the country. Statements are issued and ignored. 2139. 2165. 2191. 2254. 2258. These are the numbers of the United Nations Security Council resolutions that are brushed off by Assad.
“Big businesses are closing and the problems we are facing only young people can solve…The need for startups and entrepreneurship culture is really essential for Syria.” Leen Darwish. Read about her coding app Remmaz here.
When I lived in Syria, I hadn’t even heard about the Janbolad (Junblatt) Palace until 2011, my third year as an archaeology student. I was very surprised that a palace like this existed in my city. I did not expect its beauty, because just a few people even knew the palace’s name and location.
Studies of the Syrian civil war have largely focused on topics such as refugees and casualties and have left the crucial topic of employment greatly under-researched. Understanding changes in the composition of the job market will greatly enhance reconstruction efforts in post-war Aleppo as it allows a better understanding of the availability and quality of the labour force.
In late 2014 and early 2015, The Aleppo Project surveyed 1001 Aleppians about many issues.
This paper focuses on the two questionnaire items related to current professions of the respondents and their previous professions. The major findings of this paper include:
The composition of the job market has pointedly changed due to the conflict
Unemployment more than doubled due to the conflict. This applies to Aleppians within the city and abroad
Differences in the rate of unemployment among Aleppians are largely explained by gender, age, education, and the neighbourhood from which the respondents come.
I believe that policymakers in post-war Aleppo will be faced with very high unemployment rates as the returnees with the fewest economic opportunities abroad come to Aleppo first to seek jobs. Ignoring the unemployed might ignite new unrest and could make the process of reintegration and reconciliation harder.