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Confronting Fragmentation - Social and Health Impacts of the Syrian Conflict

Social Policy PhD student publishes major, new report on the impacts of the conflict in Syria.

A new report by the Syrian Centre for Policy Research highlights the catastrophic impacts of the five year conflict in Syria. It includes an estimate of 470,000 fatalities that are directly and indirectly attributable to war; The Guardian notes that this substantially exceeds previous UN calculations.


By the end of 2015, 11.5% of the country’s population had been killed or injured during the conflict and about 45 per cent of the population forced to leave their homes. The scale of the impacts of conflict is also reflected in the decline of life expectancy at birth from 70.5 years in 2010 to 55.4 years in 2015. The overall poverty rate is now estimated to have reached 85%, with 69% living in extreme poverty. 

One of the report’s authors, Khuloud Saba, is a PhD student in Social Policy’s Global Public Health Unit. Khuloud’s doctoral research examines the social determinants of health in the context of conflict in Syria. She notes that 

“Out of the new estimated death toll, 70,000 Syrians were killed due to the institutional collapse of social sectors, most notably the health sector, as an indirect impact of the conflict.” 

Khuloud highlights the ways in which the fighting parties are targeting and deforming social sectors as a tactic of war, with international attention largely focused on implications for Europe’s ‘refugee crisis’ rather than human suffering and severe violations of human rights.

Note: Social Policy had planned to host a series of events in Edinburgh to coincide with the publication of this report, which have had to be postponed after two of its authors were declined visas following applications to the British embassy in Beirut.