“A refugee, according to the 1951 Convention [relating to the Status of Refugees], is someone unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion”.
Refugee crises have indeed become a multi-faceted phenomenon, namely raging across the USA, Europe, and the Middle East today. When the Syrian crisis broke out in 2011, Lebanese households expressed an immeasurable generosity towards displaced Syrians. However, Lebanese hospitality came at a very high economic and social price. Six years into the crisis, Syrian refugees constituted more than 30% of the Lebanese population (1 in 3 is a Syrian).
The unprecedented influx and its indirect costs threaten to negatively impact the economy at a quicker pace. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth contracted from 7% in 2010, to 1.5% in 2011, 1% in 2015, and a projected 1% in 2016 as well. Stifled growth rates shadowed a gross public debt that rose by almost 16.5% one year into the crisis, to hit a projected 144% of GDP by 2016. Government spending on public services dilated while revenues contracted, swelling deficits by 16.44% to 8.5% of GDP by 2012; currently, public deficits are back on an upward trajectory estimated at 7.9% of GDP by end 2016.
Besides its geographic proximity, Syria is Lebanon’s trade partner, its transit grounds, and its socio-cultural partner. Yet, the Lebanese “relief”-response led by the hosting communities is no longer sustainable or adequate to host Syrian refugees according to the UNHCR’s figures. This report traces the economic spillovers of the unparalleled influx of refugees through two transmission channels, the Lebanese labour market and the government budget, and it concludes with a set of best practices proposed to dilute the graveness of the situation in Lebanon.
For the full report, click on the link below:
The Economic Burden of Lebanese Hospitality During the Syrian Crisis