The World Bank is investigating the effects of Syrian conflict in the Mashreq region

Rising poverty levels, increased public debt, reduced access to already public services … A new World Bank report looks at the terrible socio-economic case of Syrian conflicts in neighboring countries such as Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.

If the first victim of the ten years of the war in Syria is the Syrian population, with more than 380,000 deaths since 2011 and millions of refugees and displaced persons, World Bank report in English, published June 18, examines the repercussions that affected and weakened neighboring countries, already exposed to regional instability and previous chronic economic uncertainty.

“The overall economic impact of the Syrian conflict on Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon has been disproportionately high compared to other similar situations in the world in recent decades,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, regional head of the World Bank for Mashrek (Arab East).

Neighbors “due to financial shocks”

According to the report, the Syrian conflict, in addition to increasing public debt in neighboring countries whose economies are interconnected, has seen an annual decline in economic growth of 1.2 percentage points over the past decade. percent in Iraq, 1.6 points in Jordan and 1.7 points in Lebanon.

It is also responsible for an increase in the poverty rate of 7.1 percentage points in Lebanon, 6 points in Iraq and 3.9 points in Jordan and the deterioration of the labor markets, especially for young people and women.

“Due to the weakness of social security networks, Iraqis, Jordanians and Lebanese remain largely at a loss of economic shocks,” the World Bank said in a complex regional geopolitical context.

The report, which will be officially presented on June 24, as part of IVeThe Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, organized June 29-30, also recalls that the conflict and repression led by the Damascus regime have provoked the most serious refugee crisis since the Second World War.

At the height of this crisis, the number of refugees represented more than a quarter of the local population of Jordan, Lebanon and the Iraqi region of Kurdistan, “the highest concentration of refugees in the world”.

Official figures from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) indicate that Jordan currently hosts 656,000 registered refugees in its territory, while Lebanon hosts 910,000 Syrian refugees. Cedar Country is the country in the world that welcomes the most refugees per inhabitant.

If the “demographic shock” provoked by the influx of refugees increased GDP by 0.9 points in Jordan and Lebanon, in particular by the increase in supply and total labor demand, it also burdened the supply of public services through health overload. , the transport and energy sectors.

“Host communities and refugees both suffer from deficiencies in public services, which often drives them to rely on short-term alternatives,” the World Bank adds. Solutions, especially with regard to electricity supply and water, “which jeopardize their health, except that they cost up to three times more expensive than the use of networks and water supply networks”.

A medium term strategy to get out of the crisis

But the report, which is “based on a variety of data sources, statistical techniques and economic models” according to its main author, economist Harun Onder, does not include a depicting situation and believes it is possible to remedy the aftermath of the Syrian crisis.

The report calls for far-reaching reforms and a medium-term strategy, supported by the international community, to correct structural problems and counteract the negative effects of the conflict in Syria. A strategy that requires strengthening social security networks, which requires investment and improved access to public services for all residents.

“The international community can thus promote stability and prosperity in Mashrek, and this measure will be all the more effective because it is based on a strategy that is not so much based on short-term measures as on a medium-term perspective, combined with a strategy to promote cross-border links and coordinated actions across borders, says Saroj KumarJha.

An approach that requires “a concerted effort” and a “supranational commitment” in favor of stability and prosperity in the region, difficult to imagine in a context of global economic slowdown, marked by the collapse of oil prices and the future consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic which can aggravate the situation.

However, the World Bank warns that “the alternative is of no interest”.