Beirut – Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said that the Syrian refugee influx was one of the “severest crises faced in Lebanon”.
The crisis was “complicated and destructive” Hariri said, “pressure on the Lebanese economy due to the conflict in Syria is tremendous and unprecedented” he added.
Hariri’s remarks came during the launching of the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan 2017-2020 at the Grand Serail on Thursday, in the presence of U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag and U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Philippe Lazzarini.
Hariri stressed that Lebanon would need between $8 billion and $10 billion over the next three years to improve infrastructure, invest in new projects and make up for the financial loss.
“In the coming three years, Lebanon needs no less than eight to ten billion dollars worth of new investments,” Hariri noted.
He added that international contributions “while appreciated … are not proportional to the large needs of displaced Syrians and host communities”.
The prime minister said that economic growth dropped from 8 percent to one percent since the beginning of the crisis in Syria.
He added in this regard that the slow economic progress has decreased the country’s ability to deal with the refugee influx.
“A key priority for my government is to contain budget deficits, upgrade infrastructure and boost growth. This effort will be weakened by the heavy presence of displaced Syrians,” Hariri said.
“Even though we cannot attribute slow growth to the presence of displaced Syrians alone, the slow growth in recent years has curtailed our ability to deal with the displaced”, he added.
According to Reuters, at least 1 million people fleeing Syria’s war have poured into Lebanon since the conflict began in 2011, making up a quarter of the small country’s population and seriously straining its public services.
Lebanon, Syrian refugees, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag, U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Philippe Lazzarini