Crisis in Syria Needs Economic Solutions
NEW YORK – International News – The crisis in Syria urgently requires a robust development response to complement ongoing humanitarian and refugee efforts in the region, senior United Nations officials today said at the start of a meeting in Jordan. “A comprehensive development response to complement our humanitarian efforts in Syria and its neighbours is overdue. We are determined to change that,” said Sima Bahous, Chair of the Regional UN Development Group, which is hosting the meeting, and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States at the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
Moving the country forward means adding in an economic impact from the actions in the deteriorating economic and social outlook.
Canada Advises Against Travel to Syria
In Canada, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada are advising against all travel to Syria due to the deteriorating security situation. “We continue to advise Canadians in Syria to leave by commercial means as soon as it is safe to do so. Many airlines, including Arab League carriers, have suspended their flights from Syria. The airport in Damascus may be closed on short notice and access to the airport is increasingly limited due to security operations. Canadians are advised to contact their airline to check the status of their flight prior to travelling to the airport. We strongly recommend that Canadians register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service,” according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The meeting of the Regional UN Development Group, which started today and will continue over two days, is expected to conclude with a plan focused on development in Syria and its immediate sub-regional context and how to put that response to action, according to a UNDP news release.
Regional directors and representatives of more than 20 UN agencies, including UNDP, are in the Jordanian’s capital of Amman to discuss means to harmonize UN responses to the conflict which has killed more than 100,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes within Syria and into neighbouring countries.
Almost 97 per cent of Syria’s refugees are hosted in the immediate surrounding region, with around one million in Lebanon, followed by Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.
“The spillover of the crisis into its four neighboring countries is impacting economic and human development outcomes in those countries at the national and local levels,” UNDP said in a news release.
Key sectors including investment, tourism, trade and local production are affected at varying levels of intensity, according to the UN agency. The crisis also is raising concerns over possibilities of triggering tensions between refugees and local populations in those countries.
Recent impact assessments in the two countries most affected by the crisis – Lebanon and Jordan – raise concerns that the crisis may be seriously compounding the deterioration of their economies, which were already under stress, with direct impact on incomes and poverty levels especially among the most vulnerable populations.
World Bank Economic Outlook – Syria is Slow
A joint World Bank-UN assessment in Lebanon estimates that over the period of 2012- 2014, the Syrian conflict may cut real GDP growth by 2.9 percentage points annually, leading to a cumulative loss in wages, profits, taxes and investment of up to $7.5 billion.
The number of Lebanese who are living in extreme poverty could rise from 1 million to 1.17 million and the unemployment rate could double to above 20 percent.
According to UNDP, official assessments in Jordan indicate that the Government has incurred over $251 million during 2012 to provide and maintain services and basic needs of Syrian refuges and estimate that additional costs needed to continue hosting them may reach $1.68 billion, excluding the additional costs for the camps.
This burden has stifled efforts to recover economic growth in the Jordan from 8.15 per cent in 2005 to 2.3 per cent in 2010. According to the cited figures, the national unemployment rate rose to 13.1 per cent from 12.7 per cent.