Reconstruction following the devastating wars and state failure which followed the Arab uprisings of 2011 has become an increasingly pressing issue. In Iraq, the liberation of territories from the Islamic State came at great human and infrastructural cost. In Syria, the reconquest of territories by the regime of Bashar al-Asad has been accompanied by international discussions of modest steps towards reconstruction, after a war which generated more the half of the world’s refugees and internally displaced whilst sowing devastation across much of the country. Yemen has endured the near complete destruction of its infrastructure and economy, leaving much of the population at risk of starvation and disease. Libya is devastated by its multiple conflicts and the successive disintegration of what is left of its institutional structures. While none of these wars has yet fully ended, international and expert attention is increasingly focused on the impending challenges of reconstruction, repatriation and reconciliation.
It is difficult to exaggerate the extent of the destruction which these wars have left behind. These wars have unfolded across multiple levels. Millions of people have been dispossessed from their homes, driven into exile at home or abroad. Infrastructure has been devastated, with many cities and towns utterly destroyed. National economies have evolved into local war economies. State and local institutions have been fundamentally reshaped. Communal polarization around sectarian or political identities has progressed to extreme levels. Entire communities have been severely impoverished as health and educational attainments plummet. And the individual trauma suffered by tens of millions of people afflicted by conflict and violence will have enduring psychological and developmental effects.
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