Forging New Strategies in Protracted Refugee Crises: Syrian

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  • Forging New Strategies in Protracted Refugee Crises:

    Syrian Refugees and the Host State Economy

    Knowledge from the region, action for the region

    Regional Case Study

  • Forging New Strategies in Protracted Crises: Syrian Refugees and the Host State Economy Regional Case Study

    1www.wanainstitute.org

    ExecutivesummaryThe year 2014 saw the number of asylum-seekers, refugees and internally displaced persons exceed 50 milliongloballymorethanatanypointsincetheendoftheSecondWorldWar.Theinternationalrefugeeregime(thenormsandinstitutionsthathaveevolvedtocoordinateinternationalresponsestorefugeecrises)isstrugglingtodealwiththescaleandcomplexityofthisdisplacement.Hoststatesinrefugeeaffectedregionsareobligedbyinternationallawnottoforciblyreturnrefugeestoareaswheretheyfacethethreatofpersecution,yettheamountofinternationalaidavailabletosupportrefugeesandhostcommunitiesisnormallywoefullyinadequate.ThiscentralproblemisreflectedstarklyinthecurrentsituationofmanySyrianswhohavefoundrefugeinSyrias immediateneighbouringcountries.Therehavebeenchronic shortfalls in fundingsince thebeginningof theSyrian refugeecrisis,butas thesituationbecomesmoreprotracted the gaps in funding have become wider. This has placed increased pressure on refugees and hostcommunities,whooften feel that theyarebeingneglectedby the international community and left todealwith thesituationalone.Itisinthiscontextthatrefugeescancometobeperceivedasaneconomicburdenorevenathreattosecurityinthehoststate.

    The threeorthodoxdurable solutions for addressingmassdisplacement (local integration, third country resettlementand repatriation) are failing to meet the challenges posed by global displacement. It is clear that new ways ofconceptualisingrefugeemanagementneedtobedevisedthatrespondtotheprioritiesofhoststates,theinternationalcommunity and refugees.Host states needmore and better options to encourage them to keep their borders open.Phrasedanotherway,ifrefugeesareunabletoreturnhome,andtheinternationalcommunityisunwillingtohosttheminlargenumbersorfinancethecostofhosting(atleastoverthelong-term),thenstatesmustbeofferedsolutionsthatworkfororare,atminimum,notcontrarytotheirnationalinterests.Thisimploresatransitiontoapproachesthatlookmorecloselyathoststateneedsandprioritiesinthefirstinstanceandthatcreatespacetocraftinnovativesolutions.

    This paper proposes that refugees could be better conceptualised as embodying new opportunities, rather thanhardships,forhoststates.Indoingso,itposesthefollowingquestion:howmighthoststatesraisepoliciestomitigatethe negative impacts associatedwith refugee hosting, whilst simultaneously supporting their long-term security andeconomicpolicy goals?Thepaperbeginswitha comprehensiveoverviewof the currenteconomic trajectoriesof thecountriesneighbouringSyria,identifyingsomeofthemainstrengthsandweaknessesandtheoutlookforthefuture.Itthenconsiderstheimpacts,positiveandnegative,thattheSyrianrefugeesituationhashadonthesecountriesandwhatfurther impacts could ariseover the longer term. Finally, it explores someof theways inwhichhost state economicinterestsmightbereconciledwiththeimperativeofrefugeeprotectioninwaysthatcouldleadtomutualbenefitsforrefugeesandhostcommunities.

    One clearoption is to view refugeesas a structural economicopportunity: toharness their skills andexpertiseasanassetforprivatesectorgrowth,withaviewtobothcreatingaself-sufficientpopulationandeffectingmacroeconomicpolicygoals.Chapter6detailssomebasicexamplesofhowthismightmaterialise:encouraginglarge-scaleinvestmentinmanufacturingandagricultureandcreatingemploymentopportunitiesforbothSyrianrefugeeandhostcountryworkersatpre-establishedratios.Thismodelhasthepotentialtoreducehostingcostsbyincreasingrefugeesself-sufficiencyinthe context of severe shortfalls in international humanitarian assistance.Moreover, itwould constitute an importantsteptowardshoststateslonger-termeconomicresiliencebypromotingstrategicinvestmentinunderdevelopedareasoftheeconomyandbyfacilitatingincreasedtaxrevenues.

  • Forging New Strategies in Protracted Crises: Syrian Refugees and the Host State Economy Regional Case Study

    2www.wanainstitute.org

    IntroductionThecivilconflictinSyriaposesthemostcomplexandimmediatehumanitarianchallengetotheWestAsia-NorthAfrica(WANA) region. It is estimated that over half of the Syrian population has nowbeen forcibly displaced,with severalmillionhavingfledacrosstheborders intoneighbouringstates.Morethan2millionSyriansarecurrentlyregisteredinTurkey, and Lebanon has become the highest ranking country globally in terms of numbers of refugees per capita,closelyfollowedbyJordan.Thereareover249,000SyrianrefugeesintheKurdistanRegionofIraq,representingjustoneofmyriaddisplacementchallengesaffecting thisarea,andover134,000 inEgypt.1The scaleofdisplacementand theincreasingly protracted nature of the Syrian crisis are having a dramatic impact on the ability of host states andinternationalactorsaliketorespondeffectively.Theorthodoxapproachunderwhichrefugeecrisesaremanagedaroundtheglobefollowsapredictablesequence:hoststates,overwhelminglyintheso-calledglobalsouth,provideaprotectionspacewhilethecostsofrefugeehostingareborneby the international community.There isa serious flawwith thismodel,namely:whereas theexistenceof theperemptorynormofnon-refoulementobligeshoststatesnottoreturnarefugeetoterritorywheretheyfearagenuinethreatofpersecution,thereisnoequivalentonusofresponsibilityontheinternationalcommunityintheprocessesofburden-sharing.Whena crisis becomesprotracted, host states andhumanitarian agencies routinely face thedifficultsituationofhavingtocontinuetosupportadisplacedpopulationbut inacontextofdiminishingdonorcontributions.Thisimbalancebetweenprotectionandburden-sharingiscompoundedbythefactthat,inmosthoststatesintheglobalsouth,therearerestrictionsonrefugeesabilitytoentertheworkforce,exceptinveryspecificcases.Theresultisthatrefugees very often are caught in themiddle of the competing interests of host states and the various internationaldonors.Refugees predominantly rely on savings and assistance from humanitarian agencies. As these resources wain, morerefugeesmayseekworkintheinformalsector,wheretheyareexposedtoexploitation,unsafeworkingconditionsandotherrisks.Growthoftheinformalsectorhasnegativeimplicationsontheeconomicdevelopmentofthehoststate,byunderminingthetaxbase,distortingspendingandcompromisingtheruleoflaw.Thissituationfeedstheperceptionofrefugees as inherently burdensome. The three orthodox durable solutions for addressing mass displacement (localintegration,thirdcountryresettlementandrepatriation)arefailingtomeetthechallengesposedbyglobaldisplacementandhencealternativesolutionsneedtoevolve.Inrecognisingthesefactors,theWANAInstitutehassoughttore-frametheproblemandproposenewapproaches to refugeemanagement. For instance,howmight thepresenceof a largerefugeepopulationcometobereconceivedasagenuineopportunityforthehoststate?Whatscopeisthereforgreaterinclusion of refugees in the economic development of host states inways thatwould also yield tangible benefits torefugees themselves? Might it even be possible to harness refugees skills and expertise on a larger scale to effecttransformationalchangevis--visthehoststatesmacroeconomicdevelopmentgoals?

    1UNHCRetal,3RPRegionalProgressReport(2015)at24November2015.

  • Forging New Strategies in Protracted Crises: Syrian Refugees and the Host State Economy Regional Case Study

    3www.wanainstitute.org

    1:Turkeyseconomy:anoverviewTurkeyisanupper-middleincomeeconomythatiswell-regardedasoneofthefastestgrowingeconomiesintheworld.Despite large domestic energy consumption and a lack of abundant natural resources such as oil and gas, theGrossDomestic Product (GDP) in Turkey stood at USD799.54 billion in 2014, positioning it as the sixth largest economy inEuropeandeighteenthintheworld.23WithaGDPpercapitaofUSD8871.91in2014(anall-timehigh),Turkeyisgloballyidentifiedasanewlyindustrialisedeconomyoranemergingmarketeconomy.4

    Turkeyseconomyisperhapsmostnotableforundergoingaprofoundtransformationthatcommencedinthe1970sandgave rise to the solid growth trajectory upon which its current successes are built. Much can be attributed to anambitiousqualitativeleapthatwasmadeinthecountrysmanufacturingsector.Intheyearsbetween1990and2014,Turkeyspercapitaincomenearlytripled,whilethetotaleconomyexpanded110percent.5 Theaveragegrowthrateinthelastdecadewasaround5percent,thefastestamongtheOrganizationforEconomicCooperationandDevelopment(OECD) economies, which grew at an average of 1.7 percent.6 Fundamental reforms carried out after 2001 allowedTurkeys financial sector to remain relatively strong during the global economic crisis. As the rest of Europe wasgrappling,theTurkisheconomyexpandedby9.2percentin2010,and8.5percentin2011.7Moreover,Turkeywastheonlymember state of theOECD that did not provide public sector support to the banking sector in thewakeof theglobal financialcrisis.8Awell-articulatedandwell-implementeddevelopmentplancontinuestocontributetoTurkeyscommendableregionalandglobaleconomicposition.Insum,andinthewakeofcross-bordereconomicslowdownsandrefugeecrises,Turkeyservesasausefulmodeltolearnfrom,butalsoonethatcanbeimprovedandbuiltupon.

    Likeanyotheremergingeconomy,Turkeysimpressiveeconomicconditionsarecoupledwithchallenges.Theseriesofeventsthatoccurredin2012,bothinternallyandexternally,revealedthattheTurkisheconomicsuccessstoryisnotasresilientasoncepresumed.9Afterbeingamongtheworldsfastestgrowingeconomiesin2011,thecountryplungedintoweakergrowthandhigherspending,andgrowthfelltojustunderthreepercentin2014.10Thiscanbeattributedtoacombinationofdomesticfactorslikecorruptionscandalsandmismanagementcoupledwithexternalevents,suchastheEurozone crisis andmassive refugee influx. In order to decipher which of these factors contribute themost to thefragility of Turkish economic perform

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