The economic impact of the Syrian war has cost Lebanon nearly $9.7 billion, according to a study conducted by Jennifer Abu Mrad and her colleagues from the economic research center InfoPro titled, “Economic impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon.”
The detailed study comprising of nearly 250 pages includes the impact of the Syrian war on Lebanon’s industries including its banking sector, labor market, real estate, health care, tourism, sanitation, education, and electricity.
“We used more than a hundred sources. It was the best way of portraying the situation. Real estate and tourism were most impacted. We used simulations by for economic losses,” said Abu Mrad in reference to the study of the economic impact the Syrian war has had on Lebanon’s economy.
From 2011 to 2017, ’s economy the arrival of tourists in Lebanon dropped by 2.7 million; while prior to this period Lebanon’s real estate saw solid growth, in this period nearly 132,000 houses had remained unsold. Between 2011 and 2015, construction permits dropped by 23%, while infrastructure and hhealth care saw losses of $3 billion and $3.3 billion, respectively.
The overall economic impact of the Syrian war on Lebanon was a massive $19.5 billion. However, economic aid had offset this figure by $6 billion with a multiplier effect of 1.6, which brings its net total loss to $9.7 billion.
While prior to this conflict, Lebanon’s economy was racing at a growth rate of 9%, by 2012, it sank to 3%. Since then it has remained at those levels. The influx of low-skilled Syrian refugees, has seen Lebanon’s labor market grow by more than 30%. With the country playing host to a vast number of the Syrian refugee population, Lebanon ranks as having the highest per capita proportion of refugees in the world.
“There has been a mass hysteria concerning the number of refugees and its economic impact, concerning everything to do with the Syrian crisis,” said Ramzi El Hafez, the study’s publisher and editor-in-chief. “We have used the Syrian crisis as the cause of every problem we have in this country, even if these problems are 10, 20 or 30 years old.
“This doesn’t mean the Syrian crisis hasn’t come with its own problems, but it is mainly exacerbating existing problems. We decided to put together information based on organizations and our own research, accessible to the public and the business community,” added Ramzi El Hafez.
“Lebanon was not prepared for such an influx. Its infrastructure was already insufficient to cater for its own citizens prior to the Syrian crisis. Alongside the influx of refugees, the Syrian conflict has affected employment, caused trade difficulties, exacerbated local poverty and posed a threat to small businesses,” states the report in reference to the war’s economic impact on Lebanon’s economy.
However, it does note, that “some key sectors of the economy have hardly been impacted at all. International aid came to the rescue, benefiting both refugees as well as host communities. However, international aid has fallen short of mitigating the full burden.”
In order to mitigate the issues pointed out in the study and as a way forward for positive economic impact, the researchers have suggested that Lebanon needs a multidimensional approach focusing on investment in infrastructure, public health and education and sustainable waste management.