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
“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.
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.
Ordinary Syrian people are going to extraordinary lengths, risking everything to protect their heritage, despite the horror that has engulfed their country. For them, it is not a question of people or stones. The story of the people is embedded in those stones, a crafted story stretching back millennia. Saving that story is saving Syria. Dr. Emma Cunliffe. Research Associate, Oxford University.
We know that many Syrians who have been forced from their homes are passionate about their country and are already playing a role in its future. When refugees and people who were forced to leave eventually return home, they often suffer a second displacement when they are pushed aside by reconstruction processes that ignore their needs and plans. By gathering information from as wide a range of people as possible, we hope to challenge many of the assumptions about how reconstruction should be managed.
Over the next several months, we will post data snapshots highlighting different visions for Aleppo’s future. Our first snapshot is about restoring public services to rebel-held areas of the city.