In the bloody and protracted Syrian conflict, the humanitarian space has been heavily constrained. Different warring parties grant or withhold humanitarian access to advance their military strategies and political objectives. The Syrian regime has relied on the distribution of international aid to reward loyalty, punish dissent, further civilian dependency on it, and undermine the creation of alternative political orders. Similarly, war-driven logics now appear to be playing a prominent role in the discussions on how to begin rebuilding the country, with the regime relying on reconstruction to boost legitimacy and consolidate control.
Reconstruction will constitute an enormous task; over the past six years Syria has suffered cumulative GDP losses around $226 billion, seen half of its population displaced by conflict, and witnessed substantial damage to its civilian infrastructure. A 2017 World Bank report estimates that up to 27 percent of houses in the assessed urban centers have been either destroyed or damaged, and total reconstruction costs are estimated between $200 and $350 billion.