In recent days, the Board of Directors of the National Fund for Supporting Earthquake Victims reiterated its intention to add a third category, known as category C, eligible for support to compensate for their real estate losses.
The National Fund for Supporting Earthquake Victims was established by Legislative Decree No. 7 of 2023, aiming to provide financial support to help survivors overcome physical, material, or moral damage incurred by the February 6 earthquake. The Fund is part of Syria’s People First national action plan for the quake aftermath and will operate for three years. During this period, the Fund’s management is required to disburse the proceeds to the eligible victims.
According to its executive instructions, the support programme provided by the Fund includes compensation for owners of buildings destroyed at the moment of the earthquake on February 6 or in the aftershock that occurred on February 20, divided into two categories: Category A for destroyed properties located within licensed buildings in a zoned area, with owners being compensated by the Fund with SYP 160 million for rebuilding.
Category B pertains to unlicensed properties and buildings, whether in a zoned area or not. The owners are entitled to apply for housing within the government housing projects for earthquake victims constructed by the General Housing Establishment (GHE). These beneficiaries receive financial support of SYP 40 million paid directly by the Fund to the GHE, with the possibility of obtaining a loan from the Real Estate Bank under Decree No. 3 of 2023, equivalent to the remaining amount of the housing unit’s value. Decree No. 3 of 2023 provides earthquake victims with tax exemptions, some of which relate to their completely or partially demolished properties.
The new C category, expected to be added soon to the list of those eligible for support from the Fund, encompasses owners of properties that were destroyed after the earthquake or are to be demolished based on decisions made by the governorates due to the structural unsafety of these properties and the impossibility of reinforcing them. The C category includes owners of licensed properties located in zoned areas and unlicensed ones in both zoned and unzoned areas.
The first mention of the third category C was during a meeting of the Fund’s board of directors on December 17, 2023. This was reiterated during the board’s first meeting in 2024 on February 4, coinciding with the anniversary of the earthquake disaster. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Hussein Arnous, with members including the Ministers of Public Works and Housing, Local Administration and Environment, the Governors of Lattakia and Aleppo, and Firas Kallas, the General Director of the Fund’s board of directors.
At the latest meeting, members confirmed that work is ongoing to develop mechanisms and criteria to set up the third category within the Fund’s database without specifying a final date for beginning to receive applications according to these criteria. No final figures were released during the meeting regarding the number of damaged properties that have been or are expected to be demolished, which could qualify their owners to apply for support under category C. Furthermore, no reliable data leaked regarding the value of the support allocated for this category of victims nor the conditions for support.
The meeting on February 4 also presented the Fund’s accomplishments over the past year, including its contribution to damage assessment, building evaluations, and the creation of a database collected from support applicants and other official entities’ operation rooms.
In all cases, the number of victims the Fund has agreed to support is relatively modest, primarily due to the difficulty many victims face in proving property ownership. According to its officials, the registered individuals whom the Fund has agreed to support number 1,378 victims across three governorates: Lattakia, Aleppo, and Hama. Of these, 841 individuals are from Category A and 537 from Category B. A total of SYP 156 billion were allocated to support both categories through the Fund, and financial support has so far been provided to 381 victims, amounting to SYP 20 billion. Only 52 victims have received construction permits to rebuild their collapsed homes.
Although the number of buildings that collapsed due to the earthquake in both Aleppo and Lattakia governorate is almost equal, with an average of 50 fully collapsed buildings each, Lattakia’s share of the funds earmarked by the Fund is SYP 116 billion, of which SYP 16 billion have been distributed to 312 victims from both categories. Meanwhile, Aleppo’s share did not exceed SYP 34 billion, with about SYP 4 billion of it distributed to 57 victims from both categories. While the share of Hama governorate did not exceed SYR 6 billion, but it was not disclosed what amount had been distributed so far.