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News & Features - February 2015

Resilience, Development and Recovery:The UNDP in Syria.

Monday 16th February 2015


Bashar al-Assad is defying everyone's expectations of clinging onto power; so much so, that John Kerry along with the rest of the U.S Senate have long since abandoned the call for him to resign.The opposition rebels, headed by the Islamic front, have strongholds (at the time of writing) around Aleppo and Jasim. Kurdish fighters have emerged in the north along the Turkish border both in Afrin and Ayin Al Arab. Now since their emergence in the east, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), have made substantial gains and are currently in control of almost an entire half of the country.

Meanwhile, the latest figures indicate civilian casualties are numbering close to 200,000 in addition to 7 million refugees.

Key towns and cities have bore witness to intense fighting between the different factions. The humanitarian situation within a town under siege steadily declines due to the shortage of food and medical supplies along with a break down of social cohesion. Mass refugees have sought shelter across the borders into neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. However, a great number remain within Syrian towns and cities.

The UNDP Recovery, Resilience and Livlihood programme has been designed to engage with these critical areas. The United Nations Development Programme was created to help communities such as these, who have survived conflict and crisis. The focus being to not only recover from hardship; but improve the liklihood of continual development within the future. It has long been known as a key identified indicator in the prospect of sustainable peace and includes improved sanitation, healthcare and employment.

This programme is directly encompassed by the Syrian Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan aka SHARP; an agreement between Bashar al-Assad's government and the United Nations. UNDP officials link with faith leaders and community heads at various levels all over the country in order to facilitate a project in a given area. The priority is then given to supporting the rebuilding of these communities as well as providing aid to local businesses in recovering lost assets. As a direct result, local markets and workshops are able to remain fully operational. Emergency employment opportunities have helped a great number of population centres such as Aleppo, Damascus, Al Hasakeh and Hama. The majority of these came in the form of solid waste removal and clearing debris whereby dependant family members within the community such as children and the elderly benefit from cleaner environmental conditions.

In neighbouring countries, the programme aids communities to manage the influx of displaced people crossing the border. In Lebanon, the presence of over a million refugees is causing concern among sectarian political parties as the small nation struggles to cope. Again, just like in Syria, the UNDP improves infrastructure, along with local economic and employment opportunities. The target being vulnerable groups such as young people, those with disabilities and women. An example of this can be found in Jordan whereby entrepreneurial skills are being taught to help both men and women generate more income and sustain livlihood. One lady in particular has since made a business out of repairing diapers!

Since it's implementation, more and more people are receiving the benefits of improved hygiene and living conditions. Trade on a local level has continued through the small and local businesses as a result of the area based programmes. These people number close to 1.5 million.

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