A heap of dust is all that remains of the house where Alan Kurdi was
born and raised, before war sent his family fleeing and he drowned on
the short sea crossing between Turkey and Greece.
The image of
the toddler’s lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach turned him into
an instant symbol of the suffering of Syrians so desperate to reach
Europe that they risk their lives making the dangerous journey.
flattened home, destroyed in a United States airstrike in the landmark
battle for control of the Syrian town of Kobane last year, has not been
so widely seen. It is just one of thousands of buildings levelled, among
hundreds of thousands more that have been obliterated in Syria.
the conflict drags into a fifth year with no end in sight, little heed
is being paid to the enormity of the damage in the country. Some 2.1
million homes, half the country’s hospitals and more than 7000 schools
have been destroyed, according to the United Nations.
The cost of the damage is estimated at a staggering US$270
billion ($414.4 billion) – and rebuilding could run to more than US$300
billion, according to Abdallah al-Dardari, a former Syrian Government
minister who heads the National Agenda for Syria programme at the UN’s
Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. That’s more than 10
times the amount spent by the United States on reconstruction in Iraq,
with few discernible results.
If, or when, the war ends, any
government will find itself ruling over a pile of rubble, Dardari said.
“I don’t know who will fund this.”
The immense human toll is a
far more immediate and obvious concern. As many as 250,000 people are
dead, 1 million have been wounded, 7.6 million are displaced within
Syria and 4 million have fled across the borders, according to the
The numbers rise daily with each new offensive
launched, as Russian planes join Syrian and American ones in bombing the
country and the various factions keep up their relentless attacks on
one another with rockets, mortars and artillery.
buildings are flattened, the more homes, shops and businesses are lost,
the greater the incentive to flee the country – and the less people will
have to return to when the war finally ends.
“We’re allowing a
level of destruction we will never have the means to address,” said
Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group.
“They’re wiping one city after another off the map.”
Kobane, which was under seige from Isis (Islamic State) last year, stands as a small reminder of how much is lost.
you lived in Kobane, would you stay?” asked Alan Kurdi’s father,
Abdullah, sitting in the patched-up wreck of his father-in-law’s home.