Syria Crisis: Social cohesion in neighboring countries is now at risk
"Now is the time for action to support resilience" - states a new report released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) about the impact of the Syria crisis in the sub-region.
The UNDP-ODI report —titled, “Towards a Resilience-based Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis” conducts a critical review of vulnerability criteria and frameworks used by humanitarian partners to address the Syria crisis. The report recognizes that the combination of refugee flows and decreased economic activity with Syria has altered the economic performance and fiscal health of countries in the region, affecting public finance, trade deficits and key economic sectors.
In Lebanon for example, the loss in GDP on account of the crisis over the past two years (2012-2014) is estimated at over 3 percent and the negative impact on the government’s budget is estimated at USD 2.6 billion. Similarly in Jordan, the fiscal impact of the crisis on the education, health, electricity and water sectors exceeded USD 850 million in just two years (2012-2013). Moreover, Jordan has responded to the fiscal shortfall by making cuts in essential subsidies needed for the welfare of poor and vulnerable households.
"There is a dark side to the crisis, represented by the still silent tensions between Syrian refugees and their host populations competing for resources and livelihoods. The crisis therefore cannot be purely handled with humanitarian assistance. A resilience-based approach that complements humanitarian efforts is very much needed to address, for instance, social cohesion issues,” stated Gustavo Gonzalez, the UNDP Subregional Development Coordinator for the Syria crisis.
“Social cohesion relies on a complex formula comprising social perceptions, cultural backgrounds and, of course, equitable access to resources. In the case of Lebanon, which now has the highest concentration of refugees in the world (25%) and one of the most complex multiethnic fabrics, social cohesion is at risk and the unfortunately familiar spectre of civil unrest is ever too close”, added Gonzalez.
The report argues that an analysis framework, as opposed to categorical criteria, would allow a more in-depth analysis of root causes of vulnerability and allow appropriate resilience-based development response to the Syria Crisis.
“Resilience is more than jargon. It not only offers a smart reading of what is needed, but also of what can be used and adapted to cope with the crisis. Resilience is about optimizing national capacities and resources rather than replacing them”.
The report indicates that processes and structures are in place that can support the response analysis and decision-making. While they are by no means perfect, there are multiple sources of data available to support these types of analysis, including the assessments underpinning the National Resilience Plan of Jordan and Lebanon Stabilization Roadmap.
“This crisis has not only challenged standard mechanisms for conflict resolution, but also international solidarity. While the number of refugees and people in need exceeds 14 million (3.2 and 10.8 respectively) and continues to increase, almost 70% of the humanitarian requirements remain unfunded,” concluded the UNDP Sub-regional Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Gustavo Gonzalez.
Nour Zabalawi, Communications Officer,
Sub-Regional Facility for the Syria Crisis, Amman, Jordan