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World Bank estimates Syria needs $7.9bn for reconstruction

REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
A woman walks past street art on the rubble of damaged buildings in Jandaris town in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Syria on February 22, 2023

The World Bank on Monday said the February earthquakes are expected to have caused Syria’s real GDP output to contract by 5.5 percent in 2023, with recovery and reconstruction needs estimated at $7.9 billion over three years.

The World Bank said its rapid damage and needs assessment report estimates the earthquakes that hit northern and western Syria on February 6 and 20 caused physical damage of $3.7 billion in the country, with another $1.5 billion in economic losses for a combined damage impact of $5.2 billion.

The World Bank had previously projected a 3.2 percent contraction in Syria’s 2023 economic output, due to continuing conflict, high grain and energy prices and shortages, along with water scarcity that is limiting crop output.

The earthquakes will cause that GDP contraction to widen by another 2.3 percentage points to 5.5 percent for the year, exacerbating the effects of 12 years of conflict in Syria.

“The additional contraction is primarily driven by the destruction of physical capital and disruptions in trade activity,” the World Bank said in a statement. “Inflation is expected to increase substantially, primarily driven by the reduction in goods available, an increase in transport costs, and a rise in overall demand for reconstruction material.”

The World Bank estimates recovery and reconstruction needs across the six assessed regions at $7.9 billion, $3.7 billion of that in the first year. It estimates $4.2 billion will be needed over the two subsequent years.

The bank said the agriculture sector registered the largest needs (27 percent of the total), followed by housing (18 percent), social protection (16 percent) and transport (12 percent).