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Over the five years of the Syrian conflict, affected municipalities have had to develop extraordinary resources and solutions to host refugees and ensure service delivery for all. 89% of Syrian refugees are hosted in by 3 of Syria’s neighbors (Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey), and affecting already vulnerable contexts in the region such as Iraq . In the region in average, 90 % of the refugees are not hosted in camps, but reside within the host communities. As a consequence of refugee influx, local governments experienced positive (increased consumption) and negative socio-economic consequences for local communities (e.g. increased pressure on public services and resources, lower wages, social cohesion at risk).
Due to the protracted nature of the Syrian refugee crisis, there is a consensus among the international community that a key objective of mid-term policies should be to increase the welfare of both refugee and host communities. This will ensure the ongoing development of host countries, boost the contributions of refugees to their respective economies and also allow them to maintain their skills, creating the conditions for repatriation and Syria’s reconstruction. As available resources are already under pressure, new economic opportunities for host communities and the economic inclusion of refugees (which does not imply political rights and access to citizenship) can mainly be achieved by boosting local economic growth (as opposed to redistributing existing resources).
Solutions to support local economic development and the creation of job opportunities have been identified and discussed , such as: legal and fiscal frameworks for access to the labor market; the improvement of the business environment to facilitate entrepreneurship and attract private investors; channeling investments to communities hosting refugees; scaling up existing public services to boost supply and demand; achieving better matches between existing labor demand and supply. The Mashreq countries and Turkey, with the occasional support from the international community, have already begun to develop and implement mid-term solutions such as investing in local economic development, creating job opportunities and reforming labor market legislation in some host countries. Local governments can be both beneficiaries and active agents of these policies: as the local economy can benefit from central legislative and fiscal reforms or national programs, local governments also provide for the services (such as physical spaces, urban transport and amenities, social and cultural services, etc.) which enable successful business and work environments.
Since early 2016, and in close collaboration with its members and partners, the Center for Mediterranean Integration has been supporting host communities of refugees through its Mediterranean Refugees and Host Communities Program, by providing a peer-to-peer (PtoP) platform for knowledge and experience sharing on priority topics for municipalities affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. It facilitates a Host Municipalities Learning Network: a community of practice for Mediterranean municipal staff, elected representatives of host communities and development practitioners, which aims to identify and discuss innovative experiences of hosting refugees at the community level. Over the past year, the question of local economic development and associated job opportunities for host and refugee populations emerged as a key topic for host communities.
This second annual event of the CMI Host Municipalities Learning Network, is hosted by the Government of Lebanon and is organized in partnership with the World Bank, UN-Habitat, the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ), and United Cities & Local Governments- Middle East & Easter Asia (UCLG-MEWA). It aims to build on the previous discussions and deepen exchanges on how host local governments and communities, with the support of central governments and the international community, can increase local economic growth and create job opportunities, while continuing to provide resources, infrastructure and services for the common welfare of citizen, refugees and the most vulnerable. Participants will explore key local levers of action such as: stimulating entrepreneurship and attracting private investors; improving matching of labor demand and supply; providing housing and urban amenities; strengthening social cohesion.
This annual Peer-to-Peer workshop will strengthen and build the capacity of the Mediterranean Host municipality network. It specifically aims at:
Beirut, Lebanon, with field visit to the city of Saida.
Photo Album: Workshop and Sessions
The Impact of the Refugee Crisis on Host Municipalities in Jordan and Lebanon (Arabic)
Economic Projects in Jordan and Lebanon to Generate Employment and Improve Infrastructure (Arabic)