The Old Damascus Directorate has officially launched the ‘Early Recovery’ project in the historic Old Damascus area of the Syrian capital, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme.
Tamima Abboud, Director of the Old City of Damascus, announced in an interview with the Syrian regime’s Al-Baath newspaper on Tuesday that the directorate is presently engaged in a digital transformation and smart management initiative for the Old City.
This endeavour involves ‘developing a phased executive action plan that ensures its preservation on the World Heritage List, while transforming it into a sustainable digital city that caters to the daily needs of its residents and considers its economic, tourism, cultural, and environmental aspects.’
According to Abboud, the project comprises four components:
- Foundational and enabling, which encompasses equipping the digital transformation unit, procuring computer equipment, and establishing committees responsible for conducting topographic surveys and aerial photography.
- Urban planning.
- Smart urban management.
- Smart implementation projects for infrastructure and services.
Abboud further explained that the ‘early recovery’ plan, developed in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), includes the establishment of a community support center at the headquarters of the Old City of Damascus Directorate, along with the presentation of critical development projects.
In line with this effort, maintenance and reconstruction operations are currently underway for the collapsed section of the Old City of Damascus wall in the Farayen neighbourhood. These measures aim to enhance disaster protection and reduce the risk of fires. Additionally, they involve identifying potential locations for establishing dry fire lines in neighbourhoods where access to fire trucks is challenging.
The Early Recovery Steps:
Over the past year, the Syrian regime has expedited its initiatives related to ‘early recovery’ projects, a term mentioned in Security Council Resolution 2642, through a series of meetings with senior UN officials.
In a meeting between the regime’s Foreign Minister, Faisal al-Mekdad, and the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, held on the sidelines of the General Assembly meetings in New York in September 2022, these projects were discussed.
Guterres pledged to work on securing funding for early recovery projects, particularly in the critical electricity sector, and to engage with concerned countries in this regard.
Al-Mekdad, in turn, expressed his appreciation to the Secretary-General, emphasizing the importance of ‘certain countries not obstructing the implementation of Resolution 2642 regarding early recovery projects.’
According to the United Nations Development Programme, early recovery is ‘an approach that addresses recovery needs during the humanitarian emergency response phase.’
In essence, this concept involves restoring essential services that enable affected individuals to become self-reliant in a more sustainable manner, reducing their dependency on relief organizations for basic necessities.
Humanitarian workers in Syria have previously cautioned against the Syrian regime’s exploitation of ‘early recovery’ projects as a means to replenish its coffers and gain legitimacy. The regime has a history of misappropriating aid, distributing it solely in loyalist areas, manipulating aid money transfer exchange rates, and employing associates in aid and procurement positions.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.