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Refugees and Host Communities

Status: Active
  • Knowledge Base

    The Syrian conflict is having disastrous humanitarian, social and economic consequences both in Syria, neighboring countries, and the entire Mediterranean region. This unprecedented and protracted refugee crisis is placing an extraordinary burden on host countries and communities. This regional knowledge base aims at highlighting the socio-economic challenges involved in hosting refugees in the heavily affected Middle East and Turkey, as well as Europe and North Africa. Despite obvious differences in burden-sharing among host countries and communities within these sub-regions, they face common challenges and can benefit and learn from each other’s experiences through cross-regional exchanges. This knowledge base offers evidence-based analyses, innovative actions and solutions to develop more effective responses to the refugee crisis. These are essential to boosting actors’ capacities in order to work towards the common welfare of refugees and host communities.

    Countries Targeted

    • Middle East; Turkey; North Africa; Europe




    Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI); Agence Française du Développement (AFD); Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ); Medcities; UN Group; International Organization for Migration (IOM); International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD); United Cities Local Governments – Middle East West Asia (UCLG MEWA); World Bank.




    Syria’s neighbor countries are facing an unprecedented and protracted refugee crisis with spillover effects in Europe, in which humanitarian challenges are coupled with long-term development challenges for the Mashreq and the entire Mediterranean region.

    There are some 5 million (May 2017) registered Syrian refugees in the Mashreq and North African countries, while a significant number (937,718) has applied for asylum in Europe.


    Host countries are providing the international community with a global public good, and need to be supported in return.

    The insufficient economic inclusion of refugees through access to income and labor will limit their contributions to host economies, and increases the risk for refugees to fall into poverty.


    Urban communities are particularly affected by the influx of refugees, which places additional strain on the provision of basic services and social cohesion.


    Program Objective


    The program aims to disseminate existing knowledge and evidence on development solutions to forced displacement by convening its networks and partners, develop consensus around policy adjustments with regard to both host communities and refugees, and advocate for the need to rally the MENA diaspora more proactively.


    The program is developed around three program areas:


    1. Supporting local governments’ efforts in addressing the welfare of host and refugee communities


    Supporting local authorities with evidence-based knowledge and peer-learning to improve their capacity in priority public service delivery to their populations and the most vulnerable, including refugees. This contributes to better livelihoods and social cohesion. This pillar disseminates and mainstreams knowledge on relevant good practices and experiences from the Mashreq communities and beyond.


    1.  Supporting refugee inclusion for common welfare in host countries


    Addressing refugees’ potential to proactively contribute to host countries’ and their own welfare, which is essential to preserving them from a poverty trap, while developing their skills to prepare their return to their country of origin.


    1. Supporting diaspora mobilization


    Fostering diaspora economic engagement through the mobilization of potential contributions such as remittances, skills transfer, investment, business opportunities and market identification and strengthening networking among diaspora.


    Selected Outcomes


    Pillar 1: Addressing the welfare of host and refugee communities


    • Host Municipalities exchanged experiences on priority services and actions for refugees and citizens in the MENA Region and beyond:


    April 2016: a Peer-to-Peer exchange of 10 municipal representatives from Jordan and Lebanon with Turkish host municipalities was supported by CMI through a field visit to Gaziantep, Turkey.


    May 30th-June 1st, 2016: first Peer-to-Peer Learning Workshop for Communities Hosting Refugees: “Mediterranean Municipalities at the Forefront of the Refugee Crisis”, organized in close partnership with 6 institutions and the Government of Jordan was held in Amman, Jordan.


    September 2016: launch of the online discussion platform of the Mediterranean Host Municipalities Learning Network (30 members currently exchanging).


    May 2017: 2nd Annual Peer-to-Peer Learning Workshop of the Mediterranean Host Municipalities Learning Network: “Improving Local Economic Opportunities for Host Communities and Refugees”, with attendance of 90 participants from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. 


    May 2017: CMI developed a Compendium collecting best practices for communities hosting refugees (“Mediterranean Host Municipalities Learning Network: Best Practices in Hosting Refugees”), for further knowledge-sharing among the Host Municipalities Network and beyond.


    • CMI Survey of Mashreq host communities informed Host communities program


    CMI conducted a survey among host municipalities participating to the Peer-to-Peer exchange in Amman (May 2016), with a good response rate (83%). The self-assessment snapshot aimed at taking stock of successful and challenging experiences among host communities, and it was used to prepare the P2P learning event and to design follow-up support.

    A second survey has been conducted prior to the second annual Peer-to-Peer exchange in Beirut (May 2017) for a closer look into the main challenges faced and areas of support for host communities.


    • Development organizations defined joint activities to better support host communities through CMI:


    More than 15 development institutions working with local governments affected by the Syrian refugee crisis from a development or a humanitarian angle were convened by CMI through 4 partner consultation meetings, leading to the mapping of partner’s activities, the design of Peer-to-Peer event working group sessions, and to the creation of a new “Mediterranean Host Municipalities Learning Network” (September 2016) and the organization of targeted workshop series on priority themes for host communities:


    Targeted regional Peer-to-Peer learning workshops with field trips:


    October 2016: CMI-WB Host Municipalities Workshop on Solid Waste Management in Bethlehem, Palestine with attendance of 90 participants from Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, and virtually from Lebanon and Iraq.


    November 2016: CMI-GIZ Host Municipalities Workshop on Social Cohesion in Sanliurfa, Turkey with attendance of 60 participants from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.


    Follow-up webinars of the Mediterranean Host Municipalities Learning Network:


    February 2017: “PPPs and New Technologies in Solid Waste Management”, with virtual attendance of 20 participants from Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon.


    April 2017: “Data Production for Strengthening Social Cohesion in Host Communities”, in collaboration with GIZ, with virtual attendance of 30 participants from local government and development organizations in France, Germany, Jordan, Lebanon, and Switzerland.


    Pillar 2: Supporting refugee inclusion for common welfare in host countries


    • High level discussion led to the call for a “reinvigorated international response to support Mashreq countries hosting Syrian refugees in their development agenda”


    The event “From Resilience to Development: a High Level Stakeholder Conference on the Syrian Refugee Crisis” (Marseille, September 2015) initiated a discussion on international financial support that could be provided to Syria’s neighbors countries in their response to the refugee crisis.

    It was important milestone in the process of rethinking policies and mobilizing international support for the region in order to respond to long term development challenges, and was the first of a series of high level events that led to the pledges made by the international community in the London conference (February 2016).

    The event addressed the issue of access to concessional financing for the middle-income countries currently hosting refugees, and changes needed in country policies.


    • Evidence-based discussion contributed to develop consensus on possible development solutions to maintain the welfare of Syrian refugees:


    CMI disseminated in partnership with the AFD the first joint WB-UNHCR study on “The Welfare of Syrian Refugees: Evidence from Jordan and Lebanon”.

    The Ministers of Labor in charge in Jordan and Lebanon participated in the launch, together with more than 100 participants and speakers from various MENA and European host countries, as well as other development and financing partners, practitioners and technical experts.

    The common welfare of refugees in the mid- to long-term and innovative solutions that are essential to attain it were discussed, contributing to the progressive emergence of a regional response in addressing the common welfare of refugees and host communities.


    • Learning Workshop: “Strengthening Human Resources for Health: Integration of Refugees into Host Community Health Systems”:


    CMI organized, in cooperation with OECD and World Bank, a two-days’ workshop designed for governments, organizations, and stakeholders who are affected and have experience, knowledge, and expertise in health issues to discuss challenges and opportunities for strengthening the numbers and competencies of refugee health professionals in host countries to better address prevailing local health needs.

    Participants included Syrian refugee and host community health professionals; MENA and OECD governments; academia including deans of training centers and medical schools; donors; and associations and global medical education partnerships such as the Global Platform for Syrian Students.


    Pillar 3: Supporting diaspora mobilization and mobility


    • Partner Mobilized For Greater Diaspora Engagement And Networking:


    Consultation meetings supported networks and consensus building of partners on two different initiatives:

    1. the MENA Virtual Diaspora Community brings together various initiatives and programs to enhance diaspora engagement through an online platform facilitating connections between the diaspora and professionals in home countries, face-to-face meetings, exchanges among diaspora and governments, and training and capacity building.


    1. the Syrian Diaspora Initiative “Mobilizing New Markets and Investments for Syrian Refugees” develops a Syrian network to support investments, technology transfers, market identification and skills development so to enhance the development of Syrian firms outside of Syria during the conflict and inside of Syria once the reconstruction will take place. CMI supported a multi-partner event held in February 2017 in Eschborn, Germany and is currently facilitating the Syrian International Business Association (SIBA) and supporting the implementation of its action plan.


    1. CMI has facilitated three meetings of the SIBA steering committee since February 2017 and will support the preparation of the first official General Assembly network meeting in July 2017.


    • High-level regional dialogue on climate change induced migration in the Mediterranean


    CMI participated in the 11th Meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture of CIHEAM’s Member Countries in Tirana, Albania on September 22nd, 2016. This high-level discussion was an opportunity to convene around the mid- and long-term challenges with regards to climate change and forced migration in the Mediterranean. It notably highlighted the need for increased environmental resilience and inclusive development in rural areas as important safeguards against refugee crises and forced migration, notably in the agricultural sector.



    Expected Outcomes


    Pillar 1: Addressing the Welfare of Host and Refugees Communities:


    • To support MENA host communities network with evidence-based knowledge to improve their response capacity in public service delivery for refugees and the most vulnerable;
    • To share innovative solutions with host communities and countries of origin to fast-track their implementation, and to facilitate knowledge exchange.


    Pillar 2: Support Refugee Inclusion for Common Welfare in Host Countries:


    • To increase awareness on potential refugee contribution to the Welfare of host countries;
    • To convene partners and to build consensus to support refugees’ medium term economic inclusion.


    Pillar 3: Supporting Diaspora Mobilization and Mobility:


    • To raise awareness in countries of origin in MENA about the potential economic contribution of their diaspora;
    • To prepare reflections on economic engagement of Syrian diaspora that would be key in Syria’s reconstruction.




    Planned Activities




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