Overview

  • Now into its sixth year, the violent conflict in Syria continues to take a heavy toll on the life of Syrian people and on the Syrian economy. The UN estimates that more than 250,000 people have died, while other sources place the death toll at almost 500,000 (470,000) with 1.2 million people injured. More than 6.3 million people are internally displaced and 4.9 million are officially registered as refugees.

    The social and economic impacts of the conflict are also large—and growing. The lack of sustained access to health care, education, housing, and food have exacerbated the impact of the conflict and pushed millions of people into unemployment and poverty.

    In addition, a severe decline in oil receipts and disruptions of trade has placed even more pressure on Syria’s external balances, resulting in the rapid depletion of its international reserves. 

    Assessing the Impact of the Syrian Crisis

    Prior to the conflict, the World Bank Group provided support to Syria through technical assistance and advisory services on private sector development, human development, social protection and environmental sustainability. At the onset of the conflict in 2011, however, all Bank operational activity and missions to Syria were halted. However, the Bank monitors the impact of the conflict on the Syrian people and the economy. It also dialogues regularly with the international community working on Syria in an effort to make sure it is ready to support post-conflict recovery efforts. Is has carried out two recent analyses on the impact of the Syrian conflict: (i) a multi-year Damage and Needs Assessment (DNA) of Aleppo, Idlib, and Hama, and (ii) an Economic and Social Impact Analysis (ESIA) of the conflict on Syria.

    The first, the DNA, used satellite imagery, social media analytics, and public and partner data to assess the amount of damage caused by the conflict across six public sectors in three urban centers. Building on lessons from other conflict-affected countries, it used an evidence-based approach to: quantify the amount of physical damage caused to key infrastructure; assess the impact of the conflict on service delivery in a representative set of Syrian cities; and to examine trends in local resilience patterns.

    The analysis is ongoing. It is assessing the economic and social impact of the conflict Syria-wide, including its effects on physical and human capital, as well as its effects on the aggregate well-being of Syrians. The study examines the drivers of these impacts—physical destruction, losses in human lives, demographic mobility, and economic disorganization—to assess the relative importance of the impact on each. In the future, this framework will provide a benchmark for assessing Syria’s potential sectoral and economic growth under different action plans for recovery and reconstruction.

    As eventual components of a potential Recovery and Peace Building Assessment (RPBA), the assessment and analysis together underscore the Bank’s ongoing dialogue with the UN, the EU, and other development partners, and provide an important understanding of Syria’s economy, infrastructure, service delivery, and institutions. The assessment and analysis do not provide, however, a complete picture of the full extent of reconstruction that will be needed once the conflicts in Syria stop, nor do they illustrate the nation’s greater need for institutions that are fairer and more inclusive.

    Supporting Syrian Refugees and Host Communities

    The impact of the Syrian crisis has been significant in Lebanon and Jordan, where conservative estimates put the proportion of Syrian refugees at 25% and 10% of the countries’ populations respectively. The Bank’s operational response in these countries has included: (i) analytical work on the social and economic impact of the influx; (ii) the rapid preparation of projects to assist hosting communities and refugees; and (iii) the mobilization of substantial grant funding from donor partners to support the host countries.

    In collaboration with a wide range of partners and international financial institutions, the Bank led the establishment of the Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF), a mechanism that offers middle-income countries affected by an influx of refugees more favorable financing for development needs by combining grants from donors with loans from Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs).

    Under the GCFF, the Bank has already approved concessional loans for three projects: (i) a $200 million Roads and Employment project for Lebanon; (ii) a $300 million Economic Opportunities project for both Jordanians and for Syrian refugees in support of Jordan’s February 2016 London Compact; and (iii) a $250 million program to support efficiency and the fiscal sustainability of Jordan’s energy and water sectors. Emergency health and education projects for Lebanon and Jordan are also under preparation.

    The Bank also manages the Lebanon Syria Crisis Trust Fund (LSCTF), established in 2014 to provide grant financing to projects that mitigate the impact of the Syrian crisis. The LCSTF is funded by the UK, France, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark, and has supported five emergency projects in education, health, and municipal services to date.

    It has also supported the National Poverty Targeting Program and Lebanese plans supporting refugees and their vulnerable host communities. In Jordan, the Bank and its development partners have used grant financing to support an Emergency Services and Social Resilience Program (ESSRP) to help Jordanian municipalities and Jordanian host communities address the immediate impact of Syrian refugee inflows since October 2013 on their public service delivery. 

    Last Updated: Apr 01, 2017

  • As a result of Syria’s decline in Gross National Income per capita and its increases in poverty, the World Bank Group recently re-classified Syria as an International Development Association-eligible country, a move which emphasizes the sheer scale of the damage the conflict has done to Syria’s economy. This reclassification places Syria among the world’s poorest countries, and makes it eligible for the Bank’s IDA grants and highly concessional loans.

    It is therefore critical for the Bank and its partners to continue to understand the impact of the conflict in order to be able to respond quickly when re-engagement becomes possible. Analytical products such as the ESIA and the DNA (see above), as well as sustained support for the host countries most affected, provide inputs to the international discussion on the future of Syria.

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In Depth

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The Economic and Social Consequences of the Conflict in Syria

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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Beirut, +961-1-987800 Ext. 239
mziade@worldbank.org