Read: EBRD refugee crisis response
The civil war in Syria has displaced millions of people in the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Many have fled to neighbouring countries - including Jordan and Turkey, where the EBRD invests.
The EBRD’s response to the challenges posed by the sudden surge in population in these two transition economies is to help build the host-countries’ economic resilience to cope with the crisis, now and in the months and years ahead.
Humanitarian relief, provided by specialised agencies, needs to be complemented by urgent development support. Here institutions like the EBRD can make a contribution – and an impact. The Bank has prepared a €900 million investment plan consisting of EBRD funds (up to €500 million) and donor contributions (up to €400 million – with €100 million pledged by the Bank through its Shareholder Special Fund). At the same time, the Bank is forging ahead with the first steps to alleviate the refugee crisis. In 2016, the EBRD committed to the plan over €70 million in new transactions alongside €50 million of grants.
The EBRD is helping to boost Jordan’s and Turkey’s economic resilience and cope with the influx of millions of Syrian refugees.
The EBRD is engaged with investments, technical cooperation and policy dialogue to promote livelihood opportunities and inclusion as well as advancing economic development. Building on its experience, the Bank focuses on areas where it has the track record, know-how and strong networks to improve people’s lives quickly.
Turkey hosts the largest share of refugees from Syria, with numbers estimated around 2.7 million. In Jordan, the 1.4 million Syrian newcomers represent 13 per cent of the current population. In both countries, almost all refugees (90 per cent) live outside of camps and are mostly concentrated in cities close to the border.
The sharp increase in population has had an enormous impact which affects the lives of local communities and the overall economies of the two countries.
Public services such as water and sanitation, solid waste management and urban transport, which in many instances were already in need of upgrade, are now extremely stretched and fail to serve the increasing number of people. Vulnerable communities of local and refugee populations struggle for livelihood opportunities - so much needed to cement social cohesion.
To deal with these issues and bolster refugee-hosting communities, the EBRD promotes a strong role for the private sector. It can help provide employment to both host-communities and refugees with work permits. In addition, increased private sector participation in municipal projects can accelerate the upgrade of infrastructure to improve urban life, preserve the environment and ultimately benefit the economy as a whole.
Many of our projects have immediate impact. The extension of micro-loans through local financial institutions to disadvantaged segments of the population such as women boosts opportunities for refugees and local population to establish businesses.
Rapid financial and institutional support to municipal companies operating in areas densely populated by refugees helps to ensure uninterrupted delivery of services, for example for collection and disposal of solid waste and availability of public transport.
In Jordan we are supporting the City of Amman in modernising the landfill which serves the capital (home to half of the Jordanian population and 30 per cent of all refugees present in the country) as well as the cities of Zarqa and Rusayfeh, home to a significant number of refugees.
In Turkey, thanks to an EBRD loan and grants from the SSF, the city of Gaziantep, which saw a sharp rise of its population due to refugee inflows, acquired 50 new buses which are increasing the service for commuters. The Bank is now working on extending another loan to continue improving urban transport.
The Bank could not face these challenges without the support of donors. Together, we have an urgent role to play to alleviate the economic and social pressures in the concerned regions. We are delivering now and, with the help of our donors, will do more in the months and years to come.