Syrias ongoing five-year civil war has seen million of its civilians been displaced, wounded and others killed by the intense violence. In recent times, the war in Syria is the bloodiest with hundreds of people being killed every single day. The beautiful and well-constructed cities that once existed are now in ruins creating a basic infrastructure vacuum that will throughout reverberate the region for some years. The United Nations High Commissioner speaking about the refugees described the situation as the worst humanitarian crisis of our time (UNHCR, 2015). The civil war has had profound effects on the Syrians, surrounding countries, and even the international community which ranges from health, security, economic, psychosocial, diplomatic among others
The Syrian war started in early 2011 as part of the Arab spring movements that was sweeping through all Arabic countries in North Africa and the Middle East. It started after the Bashar-al-Assad led government responded with harsh security measures to young pro-democracy demonstrators, this was the flashpoint that led to uprise of the armed opposition intensifying into violence. According to Taleb et al (2104), it ended the over 40 years of political stability. A civil war then ensued between the Syrian government and the armed opposition groups. Each group had their own supporters. The Sunni Muslims that had been suppressed for a long time saw this as the opportunity to overthrow the Assad-Alawite regime and create in its place a Sunni Arab nation. The conflict evolved into a more complex and large war that has merged with other regional conflicts that involved the Islamic State that fought for its salafast belief which has resulted in radicalization and terrorism. Also, they got involved in the multiple factions that were in several states many who fueled the war to higher levels for their own selfish benefits. As a result, many of its residents were displaced creating what has come to be known as the European refugee crisis. Due to the intensified civil war, there was a humanitarian and security crisis that had national, regional and global effects.
First, the health care systems have been the greatly affected by the civil war. According to WHO (World Health Organization), less than 50% of the hospitals in Syria are functioning (2015). The health infrastructure has been polarized with basic health infrastructures being destroyed. The increasing numbers of victims of war mostly children are overwhelming and the medical staff cannot handle them. Meanwhile, the fighting forces are attacking any health official trying to assist the victims of war. Many trained health workers are existing leaving a few who have to work beyond their capabilities in escalating difficult circumstances. A combination of destroyed health infrastructure, fewer health workers and lack of security has led to the increase in the communicable and non-communicable diseases, rising mortality, and mobility of the population in Syria.
Additionally, UNICEF (2015) reported that as of August 2015, about 7.6 million Syrians were internally displaced. Half of them were children. This large-scale displacement caused crowding in the poorly equipped refugee camps and contamination of water resources resulting in further comprise of the health care. WHO has confirmed that non-extinct infectious diseases like leishmaniasis and polio have resurged. Epidemics like typhoid, tuberculosis, hepatitis, measles, H1N1 have continued to emerge. Many people have died due to communicable diseases especially children who have less immune systems, non-communicable diseases and poor access to treatment. Others have sustained lifelong disabilities like amputations, brain damages, spinal paralysis, loss of eyesight, burns as a result of the random bombing including the chemical one, stray bullets. Most of them have suffered from post-traumatic stress especially children.
Second, the economy of Syria has slumped, breaking down the regional economic ties. World Bank (2014), released a study that quantified the direct and indirect economic effects of the war. They found that the devastating economic impact of the Syrian war and its spillover into neighboring countries stands at US$35 billion in output as per the 2007 measured prices and was still climbing. These war aggregated costs are the same as those of the size of Syrias GDP in 2007. Syria has borne the brunt of the direct costs on its economy. The per capita income has been declining in constant terms by 23% in relation to the levels of before the war. The major factor behind the direct costs is the trade embargo, decline in the skills and the size of its labor force, infrastructure destruction and the increase in costs of having a business in war zones.
Furthermore, almost every economic sector in Syria has been negatively affected. The worst hit is the property-ownership as land has steeply declined causing a decrease in demand. The arrival of refugees in neighboring countries has caused augmentation of the labor supply and raising prices of goods and services due to increased demand (Ianchovichina & Ivanic, 2014). This has caused intense competition with the residents deteriorating wages and quality of services thus decreasing their economy.
Additionally, the war has disrupted the growth of a deep international regional trade integration. The ISIS have spread widely destroying even the economies of their neighbors and the international community at large. Additional costs may arise from the fiscal cost of relief delivery and depleted physical and human capital.
Also, Security has greatly been compromised due to the civil war in Syria. The country itself is not secure hosting many armed groups each for the control of Syria. The groups each have support from different countries who come in the pretense of assistance but are seeking to benefit from the ongoing war. This has fueled the war into greater levels. Assads allies like Iran brought its Hezbollah terrorist group to assist him so that they can fight back for their Shiite religion and against its enemy Israel (Yassin-Kassab & Al-Shami, 2016). Russia is also on Assads side for several interests like challenging the Unites States influence in the middle east by gaining favor with Assads regime in the future and protecting its military bases inside Syria. However, they have to face Assads enemies including the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and ISIS (the Islamic state) & the al-Nusra Front who want to enforce the Islamic caliphate beyond its borders. These groups have been supported by several international actors like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar. They seek to remove Assad from power thus they provide the rebels with financial assistance and provide them with arms. The United Sates supports the rebel groups that are moderate in handling weapons, not ISIS. The funding has brought countries against each other while the innocent citizens of Syria are engulfed in a war that has brought the country into tartars.
ISIS has become a global menace terrorizing neighboring countries and especially the European countries. The refugee camps where their civilians are settled have become breeding grounds for radicalizing youths. These group has been involved in a series of suicide bombings and attacks. These attacks include the three nail coordinated bombing attacks in Belgium and Paris, the mass shooting in a cafe and music theater in Paris (BBC, Paris attacks). They are not pleased with the intervention of the European countries in the Syrian war. The United States has not been spared with the recent shooting in a gay club.
The refugee camps are a major contributor to the growing insecurity experienced in the neighboring countries. the displaced civilians settling in these countries are entering without effective screening to recognize those with harmful materials. Benedetta (2015) states that there is evidence of radicalization in these camps where youths are being taught to fight and even die for their religion. They have gone to the extent of radicalizing the youths of their host countries who are then used to commit suicide bombings. Lastly, Christians are being prosecuted with extraordinary barbarity changing the course of religious war into dangerous levels.
Another profound effect is the pervasiveness on the psychosocial and mental wellbeing of its residents due to the violence resulting from the war in Syria has profound (Hassan et al, 2016). The daily stressors of being displaced can result in these effects. They include lack of basic needs and services like water and food, loss of family members and the community support, risks of exploitation and violence, and the uncertainty of the future. The affected people will experience grief and loss for any relational, emotional and material losses. The main source of stress for the Syrian is the daily concerns about the wellbeing and safety of family members.
In the displacement settings, the Syrians have become isolated from the larger support structures (Thorleifsson, 2014). They are already struggling to adapt to the refugee life in foreign countries as they cope with their own stressors like feelings of estrangement and loss of identity and homeland. Also, discrimination against the Syrian refugees and the social tensions contribute to the feeling of isolation and additional stress.
Moreover, Acarturk et al (2015) state that the psychological and social distress is manifested in a wide range of cognitive problems like helplessness and worry, emotional ones like grief, despair, frustration, anger among others. Behavioral and social problems include aggression, withdrawal, and interpersonal difficulties. Also, they face physical symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite and sleep among others. Children tend to retain and suffer from long-term effects of the conflict like depression and mental illness. Therefore, with the current protracted crisis and no end in sight, there is a pervasive sense of desperation and hopelessness in many Syrians.
Lastly, the diplomatic ties have been strained as a result of the civil war. The European Crisis started in 2015 when a large number of Syrian refugees made a journey to the European Union (EU) for asylum (Townsend, 2015). At first, most of its members agreed to help them by accommodating them. However, as more refugees continued to come so was the diplomatic relation strained. Countries started closing their borders leaving others to take the burden alone. Turkey, Greece, Hungary, Jordan among others have closed their borders. This has caused disagreements and diplomatic strains between these countries as there is less focus on the reciprocal interests of the refugees as agreed by the EUs cooperation with its neighbors.
In conclusion, it is evident that the ongoing Syrian civil war has caused immense effects. They have caused violence, deaths, displacement of its citizens and a refugee crisis that is getting out of control. Currently, they continue to face issues in relation to human rights, security, access to protection and need for humanitarian assistance.
Acarturk, C., Konuk, E., Cetinkaya, M., Senay, I., Sijbrandij, M., Cuijpers, P., & Aker, T. (2015). EMDR for Syrian refugees with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms: results of a pilot randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 6(0). doi:10.3402/ejpt.v6.27414
Berti, B. (2015). The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Regional and Human Security. Strategic Assessment ,17(1), 41-53. doi:10.1080/14781158.2014.859131
Hassan, G., Ventevogel, P., Jefee-Bahloul, H., Barkil-Oteo, A., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2016). Mental health and psychosocial well-being of Syrians affected by armed conflict. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci, 25(02), 129-141. doi:10.1017/s2045796016000044
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