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TAG-Consult: Estimated Cost of Displaced Syrians at $54 Billion and Reconstruction at $200 Billion!

03-Dec-2013 | Source : | Visits : 8554
Special to ag-IP-news Agency

AMMAN - According to an unofficial assessment, United Nations statistics on the number of persons displaced by the conflict in Syria are possibly underestimated at 30%. The total cost of supporting these displaced persons is around $54 billion each year and represents a significant strain and burden on regional social and financial structures.

The assessment highlights that one of the main causes for this discrepancy is that the UN’s figures only count registered (and soon-to-be-registered) displaced populations to give an estimate of 8.7 million displaced persons in Syria and surrounding countries.

TAG-Consult assessment has revealed that currently the number of displaced Syrians could be higher, with a further 3 million individuals who are in need of assistance, but who are presently unaccounted for in official UN statistics, bringing the total number of displaced persons to 12 million, rather than 8.7 million as estimated by the UN.

These figures are likely to continue to rapidly increase as a result of the ongoing crisis, and because of natural birth rates among the displaced populations.

The cost of hosting these displaced persons is also highly significant, and seriously underestimated. The assessment has suggested that the UN figures do not include the direct and indirect costs incurred by host governments and host communities, instead focusing on the cost of aid by UN agencies and a limited sum for development funding.

The initial assessment has suggested that the average total annual cost per displaced Syrian is roughly $4,500. This means that the total (albeit somewhat hidden by being spread out into society) cost of maintaining the 11.7 million displaced Syrians is over $54 billion per year. This has an extremely serious negative financial impact on each country.

Basic food items (i.e. bread) and non-food items (i.e. electricity) are subsidised by the state in these countries, thus any increase in the number of consumers leads to unsustainable costs for relevant governments while public revenues do not seem to have equally benefited from the relocated Syrian businesses and employed labour force. Consequently, high fiscal and trade imbalance have had, and are continuing to have, exceptionally damaging impacts on the economies of neighbouring states.

In addition to having a significant economic and fiscal impact on host countries’ governments and economies, the assessment has revealed extensive evidence of the broader impact of the crisis on different sectors neighbouring countries. This has resulted in difficulties making livelihoods, an upset labor market, increased housing prices, decreased access to health and education services, severe shortages in water supplies, as well as extreme pressure on municipal services and security/law-enforcement.

There is an urgent need for the stabilization and restoration of livelihoods through the implementation of emergency employment and self-employment schemes, the restoration of productive assets, and the local creation of products to provide needed goods and services for the displaced. Without this, the assessment concludes, not only is displaced Syrians’ welfare in danger, but the significant negative impact on local economies will severely damage host countries’ economic prosperity in the longer term.

The reconstruction and recovery in Syria will require no less than $200 billion; this is a provisional estimate and yet needs to be fully explored as the conflict and destruction in the country continue and figures are expected to get higher.

Based on the findings of this unofficial assessment, TAG-Consult aims to carry out investigations to verify the assessment with which it has been presented, and to reveal a full forecast both of the total numbers of displaced persons as well as of the total costs (both direct and indirect) of the crisis to host countries.

The forthcoming investigations to verify these unofficial estimates will be the first of several pieces of research carried out by TAG-Consult on the impact of the displaced Syrian population on the regional economy and social sectors. TAG-Consult will be releasing further research addressing the impact of the Syria refugee crisis on areas including the work force, job availability and the labour market, education, health, waste management, water, government budgets and GDP.

The research series will focus particularly on the issue of the costs of repatriation for the growing population of displaced Syrians, and the need to facilitate an effective solution to their problems, which will remain for years even after a settlement is reached, given that many may be likely to stay in host countries immediately following political settlement, rather than take the risk to return amid fragility and uncertainty. 

“No matter how globalized and integrated countries are, when people start moving in such numbers, adjustments are hard to make. What matters are the people, the human beings behind the numbers, the lost generations, the failed aspirations and the lack of readymade solutions. People will grow, displaced families will have children and therefore any response to their problem should be scalable to address the unavoidable natural growth in numbers and needs. We expect the future to be marked by high density and frequency of crises, whether natural or manmade. Countries have organized crises management units, but estimating medium and long-term costs, both financial and non-financial, for the purpose of good planning is yet to be methodologically anchored. We need a well-coordinated, rights-based approach, in line with UN values and thinking, and a comprehensive roadmap to reverse consequences of crises. That is an objective that should get full support from the international community,” said TAG-Consult Chairman H.E. Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh.

Talal Abu-Ghazaleh & Co. Consulting (TAG-Consult), a member of Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization for global professional and educational services, is dedicated to advising governments, leading organizations, as well as public institutions. TAG-Consult operates out of its 80 offices around the world including Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

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