Press Release from 2018-04-18 / Group, KfW Development Bank

Jobs for refugees and locals in Lebanon

  • EUR 12 million for "Employment through labour-intensive infrastructure measures" programme
  • De-escalating effect on tensions between Syrian refugees and local population

Today KfW officially launched the Employment through labour-intensive infrastructure measures programme in Beirut for Syrian refugees and economically weak Lebanese on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The German financing contribution for phases I and II of the project amounts to approximately EUR 12 million, a third phase of the project is planned for the current year. The programme is part of the BMZ's employment campaign in the Middle East.

The civil war in Syria has been going on for more than seven years and poses great challenges for Lebanon as its immediate neighbour. Nearly one million (officially registered) Syrian refugees live there – with a total population of about 4.5 million. The Syrian refugees only have restricted access to employment in Lebanon in selected areas, and receive neither housing nor financial support from the state. They are therefore dependent on unofficial work or help from aid organisations.

"The UN projects that KfW is carrying out on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) include short and medium-term employment opportunities for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Furthermore, they always contain components that benefit the host communities and their residents, which are heavily affected by the influx of refugees – also as a way to reduce tensions. These measures therefore make a decisive contribution to maintaining stability in Lebanon," said Dr Joachim Nagel, member of KfW Group's Executive Board.

The measures comply with recognised social standards. The jobs are created under the scope of measures to rehabilitate and improve roads and paths, install water reservoirs and water mains and create marketplaces. These measures are implemented in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It also supports the Lebanese Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs in creating a legal framework to promote labour-intensive measures and in granting the necessary work permits to Syrian refugees. The activities focus on the neediest communities of the governorates of Beeka, Northern Lebanon and Mount Lebanon.

Lebanon's economic situation has been negatively affected by (civil) wars in recent decades: a civil war raged from 1975 to 1990, followed by a war between Shiite Hezbollah and Israel in 2006. After some recovery, Lebanon's economic performance has plummeted since the beginning of the unrest in Syria in 2011. Growth is now only one percent; before the crisis it was just under nine percent. The World Bank estimates the financial losses to be EUR 18 billion. Agricultural and industrial exports to neighbouring countries have become almost impossible because borders are closed, and the number of the unemployed has doubled since 2011.

In this situation, Lebanon – like the other host countries in the region – is dependent on international aid. Since 2011 KfW has made EUR 238 million available on behalf of the Federal Government, mainly for UN programmes in Lebanon. Besides ILO and UNDP, the United Nations Children's Fund is the most important cooperation partner.

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