Refugees both a benefit and burden for Economy in Lebanon

In Lebanon, one of every 10 residents is a refugee. The country is a tiny state on the Mediterranean of just 4 million people. Over the past 24 months, Lebanon has seen more than 500,000 Syrians enter the country.

For the government, the answer to what to do with all the refugees is clear, but some economists say Lebanon could be overlooking the economic opportunities the hundreds of thousands of refugees could bring.

One minister in the Lebanese government called the refugee problem disastrous. He said imagine if between 15 and 20 million people just entered England.

In Lebanon, the electricity, which has daily black outs, has seen its demand for service increase 27% in the past 18 months, said Gebran Basil the Minister of Energy.

Most will say that food prices have increased sharply as bread is bought up by Syrians and that rents have risen sharply as families look for shelter after they fled their country’s civil war. The war has already cost more than 70,000 people their lives and caused millions more to be displaced.

Marwan Charbel the Minister of the Interior in Lebanon said the country’s security is threatened by the refugees and resentment is growing over the financial burden many believe is being put on Lebanon.

Growth in the economy has slowed, but one economist says the negative impacts of the refugees is misplaced and exaggerated by right wing groups and the media.

Even though some strain has been seen on electricity, transport and hospitals, the economist said higher spending in poor rural areas where the refugees are settling has increased and helped the local economies.

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