The Cost of Conflict for Children - Five years of the Syria crisis, March 2016
1.1 The cost of conflict for Syria
• The cost of conflict to Syria to date is an estimated US$275 billion – money which through lost growth opportunities will never be available to provide education, health and futures to Syrian children. Real GDP per capita is around 45 per cent lower than it would have been in the absence of conflict.
• Direct and indirect impacts on education services resulted in the equivalent of 24.5 million years of lost schooling by the end of 2015. With one in every four schools damaged, destroyed or used to shelter displaced people, about 5.7 million children inside Syria are in need of education assistance. There were 400,000 more children out of school in 2015 than 2014.
• Estimated life expectancy at birth has dropped by 15 years during the five-year span of the conflict. Attacks on hospitals have left only 43 per cent of Syrian hospitals functional, whilst half the total number of certified doctors have fled the country. Millions of children under 5 are now more vulnerable than ever to physical trauma, injuries, communicable diseases and malnutrition.
• The current cost to Syria of US$275 billion in terms of lost growth is about 150 times the Syrian health budget prior to conflict taking hold in 2011. It is nearly one and one-half times the budget of the UK’s National Health Service for 2015–16 and roughly the combined annual investment by France and Germany in public education. It is approximately the annual gross domestic product (GDP) of Portugal in 2014.
• Even if the conflict ends this year, the cost of the conflict will grow to between US$448 and US$689 billion in terms of lost growth. This is 140 times the amount currently requested by UN agencies and partners to meet humanitarian needs inside Syria and almost 100 times the amount to meet Syrian refugee needs across the region. This is the most optimistic scenario, where economic growth is assumed to allow Syria to recover its shortfall in GDP per capita within 10 to 15 years.
• The cost of conflict will amount to US$1.3 trillion under the assumption that conflict continues until 2020, and that it will require 15 years to eliminate the growth difference. Under this more pessimistic assumption, the cost is nearly the current annual GDP of Spain. Allowing the conflict to continue for another four years, the difference between the pessimistic and the optimistic scenarios, will cost around US$852 billion – more than the economy of the Netherlands.