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Influx of Syrian labour to Lebanon fueled unemployment but lowered economic slowdown


The Director of the Economic Development and Globalization Division at UN-ESCWA, Dr. Abdullah Dardari, confirmed during a media seminar that was held last week at the UN House, that the influx of Syrian labor into Lebanon has raised unemployment particularly amongst unskilled young laborers, a category which is usually the main victim of unemployment. Nevertheless, this phenomenon also triggered an increase in the average growth rate since it provided local entrepreneurs with cheap labor.  
Dardari, who was speaking during an event was convened by ESCWA to discuss “World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014”, predicted an increase in the GNP from 1.3% in 2013 to 2.4% in 2014, and from 3.2% in 2013 to 3.9% in 2014 in Jordan, stating that these figures need to be considered with caution in view of the side-effects caused by a 25% increase in residents in Lebanon and 15% in Jordan. As for the overall economic and development situation in the region, Dardari concluded that the geo-political stress related to the Syrian situation, will continue to negatively impact the neighboring countries.
Within the same vein, the Minister of Economy and Trade, Nicolas Nahhas, highlighted during the meeting the inability of Lebanon to absorb the influx of labor as Lebanon can only creates 3000 jobs a year whereas 25000 are needed in normal situations.
For her part, Sandra Sino of ESCWA highlighted in more details the negative impact of the Syrian crisis on the GDP and GDP per capita of Lebanon while exacerbating the social, educational, employment and health difficulties, and resulting in an increase in the rent levels for small apartments and in the cost of land transport which affected both exports and imports. She also pointed out to the steep decrease in the numbers of tourists, and revealed that some USD 11 billion of Syrian funds entered Lebanon, but only a mere USD 1 billion was effectively employed in the Lebanese economy.  She called on the government to put in place the appropriate economic policies to avoid disasters, raising serious alarms about the capacity of the country to absorb the increasing number of displaced and expecting unemployment to reach 24% in 2014.
Source: Al-Safir, Al-Nahar, Al-Diyar 25 January 2014

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