This paper was presented by Edwar Hanna at the 5th Lemkin Reunion.
Marota City is a new construction project that was launched by the Syrian government in Damascus in
2012. This project is presented as part of a more modern, aspirational ‘master plan’ for urban development
to move away from the traditional patterns of informality in housing that had developed over generations.
This paper elaborates on the issue of Housing, Land and Property rights (HLP) in the conflict and
post conflict periods in Syria, particularly concerning reconstruction and informal settlements. As
reconstruction policies tend to ignore informal ownership systems and are based on proving ownership
through documentary evidence only, millions of people are losing their rights to a just, sustainable and
inclusive reconstruction process.
Marota City is designed for a small elite of wealthy people who are not the obvious focus of reconstruction.
However, this focus is what the government, along with the private sector, are promoting, by pushing
the architectural firms to focus on the exterior without developing new housing options that fit the
changing and urgent demands of the majority of Syrians living in the area. As an example of what is being
advanced as a post-conflict reconstruction agenda, Marota City illustrates how this reconstruction needs
to be rethought – urgently – in order for people to obtain housing, for the economy to rebound, and for
communities to begin developing again. In the absence of a political resolution, it is important for the
international community to find tools and mechanisms that assist displaced populations to secure their
HLP rights. This includes practices that will assist displaced Syrians in proving ownership of their homes
and property, regardless of their current location, and in ways that are transparent and secure.
To download the full paper please click here
Link to the video