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Informal Settlements in the Syrian Conflict: Urban Planning as a Weapon

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Insurgency and war in Syria have induced changes in urban policies towards informal settlements. Syrian urban policies in the 2000s set the issue of informal settlements as a priority item on the agenda. The reform of the legislative urban frameworks, designed with international assistance, and new master plans encouraged both their regularization and upgrading and their renewal (destruction/reconstruction). While competition between these models and objectives delayed decisions and programme implementation in Damascus, the beginnings of the 'Arab Spring' elsewhere in the region influenced the orientation of these policies, showing the different ways in which urban planning can be used for strategic purposes. Initially, the Syrian uprising led to an inflexion of policies towards more social options for regularization. Subsequently, as it developed into an armed conflict, and with the escalation of physical destruction, the urban renewal option was favoured and overlapped military targets. Thus conflict, destruction and displacements have led to all urban options being put back on the table with the view to future reconstruction. This article discusses policies towards informal settlements in Syria before and during the uprising with a special focus on the case study of urban policies in the metropolitan area of Damascus.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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