'Marshall Plan' for Syria unlikely, warns top aid chief

'Marshall Plan' for Syria unlikely, warns top aid chief
The Red Cross' chief says his group are working to restore infrastructure in areas recently captured by Syria's regime, however a 'Marshall Plan'-style reconstruction programme remains elusive.
2 min read
03 June, 2017
Many displaced Syrians are considering returning to their homes in 'safe zones' [AFP]
A "Marshall Plan" for Syria's reconstruction is unlikely to be implemented while peace remains a distant goal, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Friday.

The aid group's president, Peter Maurer, said the ICRC was working to restore the supply of water, healthcare and power in areas recently taken by the regime.

"Some people speak now about a big Marshall Plan for Syria, but we also know this will not happen if there is no political consensus and minimal stability," Maurer told reporters in Geneva following his fifth trip to the war-torn country.

"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."

Last month, regime-backers Russia and Iran joined with rebel-supporters Turkey to arrange and monitor "de-escalation zones" in Syria to ease the violence.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad described the zones as an opportunity for opposition fighters to "reconcile" with his regime and drive out Islamists.

Rebel groups have criticised the agreement for dividing Syria along sectarian or "useful" and "non-useful" zones for the regime in Damascus.

As many as 8 million people are still displaced in Syria, while around 500,000 have returned to Aleppo and other areas, Maurer said. A further 700,000-800,000 could be planning to return to their homes in these zones or under local ceasefires that include the evacuation of rebels to Idlib province, he added.

Maurer said his organisation and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are able to repair infrastructure in order to ensure that returnees are able to resume a level of normality once they are back home.

"For the rest, you will need massive investment and investment only comes with a political deal on the future of Syria. While we can help people survive in a very difficult situation, I'm very concerned that we are here again moving into a long, long-term protracted conflict where we don't really see an overall peace deal," he said. 

The aid chief added that a breakthrough in peace talks would encourage investment in Syria, including through the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.