Syria plans to rebuild amidst new housing law
Five years later and civil war continues in Syria. And yet, during election campaigns in Lebanon and nearby Turkey this spring, politicians rallied around a common theme: repatriating the Syrian refugee community. Together, the two countries have accepted a total of almost 4.5 million Syrians fleeing civil war. In the past year, local hostility towards the refugee community has hit a peak and both countries have stepped up efforts to encourage refugees to go home. But, across the borders in Syria, plans for reconstruction could hinder repatriation as the government looks to build a new society on top of the country’s old communities.
As bordering countries press for refugees to be sent home, a new housing law passed by the Syrian government in April challenges if refugees will have homes to return to. Law 10 of 2018 will introduce widespread redevelopment areas in the country, allowing the government to demolish residential communities and rebuild them as they like. As the Syrian government looks to the international community to fund these projects, human rights organizations are worried about the implications this law for displaced Syrians.
Once a development zone is decreed under Law 10, local real estate authorities have 45 days to produce a list of homeowners affected. If a homeowner is missing from the list, he or she has 30 days to produce documents—in person or through a representative—proving ownership. The residents who can prove property in the designated area will have to all agree between receiving a share of the profits from redevelopment, selling shares on public option, or creating a company to invest in the development. Those who cannot provide proof in time, cede their property to the state.