UN says Syrian war has taken 'colossal toll' on its people

70% live in extreme poverty, GDP half of pre-conflict level

12 January, 20:02

    NEW YORK - Seven years of war in Syria have taken a "colossal toll" on the country and its people, according to UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, who concluded a four-day visit to the country on Friday.

    "I have this week seen first-hand the colossal toll that the brutal and sustained hostilities have taken," he said.

    "Estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, countless more are missing or detained, and five million have fled to other countries".

    Lowcock said Syria's GDP is less than half of what it was before the war, and that replacing destroyed infrastructure and housing will cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

    Almost 70 per cent of people there now live in extreme poverty, Lowcock said.

    He said he has conducted "detailed and open discussions about the crisis" with the Syrian government, and that based on those discussions he is "hoping soon to see a number of positive developments enabling us to sustain and improve the aid effort this year".

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