No Syrian 'Marshall Plan' But Rather Protracted War: Red Cross
Syria is unlikely to see a major "Marshall Plan" for reconstruction as peace remains elusive despite hundreds of thousands more civilians possibly returning to their homes, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Friday.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer attends a press briefing on his recent trip to Syria, in Geneva, Switzerland on June 2, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Denis Balibouse)
Geneva: Syria is unlikely to see a major "Marshall Plan" for reconstruction as peace remains elusive despite hundreds of thousands more civilians possibly returning to their homes, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Friday.
ICRC President Peter Maurer, speaking after his fifth visit to Syria, said the aid agency was stepping up work to restore the water, health and power infrastructure in areas retaken by the government, to which civilians are returning.
"You can't expect humanitarian and development agencies to rebuild Syria. There is not enough money, there is not enough capacity, there are not enough skills."
Russia, Iran, and Turkey agreed last month to arrange and monitor "de-escalation zones" in Syria to ease the fighting. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that the zones are a chance for rebels to "reconcile" with Damascus and drive out Islamist militants.
Up to 8 million people remain displaced in Syria, and a maximum of 500,000 have returned to Aleppo and other areas, Maurer said. Another 700,000-800,000 may be considering a return to their homes in these zones or under local ceasefires that include the evacuation of rebels to Idlib province, he said.
The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent can repair heavily damaged infrastructure so that people can go back to their communities and resume a more normal life, he said.
A peace agreement would galvanise the world to seek public and private investment in Syria and invite financing by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, he said.
Maurer said that despite his "more promising and more constructive" talks with senior Syrian officials on opening up more prisons to ICRC visits, he could not report any breakthrough on access to detainees or prospects for a prisoner exchange anytime soon.
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