Refugee crisis puts pressure on transition countries, EBRD report says

Refugee crisis puts pressure on transition countries, EBRD report says


The refugee crisis is putting economic pressure on a number of countries in transition, according to the EBRD’s latest outlook for the economies where it invests.

Countries that share borders with Syria and Iraq have experienced a major influx of people escaping the conflicts there. Turkey is estimated to be hosting more than two million refugees, while in Jordan they account for almost one-fifth of the population.

“This massive influx has strained public services, government finances and labour markets,” said the Regional Economic Prospects report. It provides forecasts for the EBRD region that includes countries in central and south-eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and southern and eastern Mediterranean.

The report refers to recent analysis of Turkey’s labour markets showing that the inflow of refugees, who overwhelmingly do not have work permits, results in the displacement of informal, low-educated, mostly female Turkish workers, primarily in agriculture.

In south Eastern Europe, several countries have seen large numbers of refugees transiting their territories. For instance, more than 145,000 migrants, mainly of Syrian origin, are estimated to have passed through Serbia since January 2015, a ten-fold increase on the number in 2014.

This has posed logistical and fiscal challenges to governments that have provided medical and social care, food, water, and accommodation. The report predicts that the costs of transit may increase further during the winter season, especially if Croatia and Hungary close their borders. United Nations agencies, the European Union, the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations have supported the region’s governments in providing urgent humanitarian aid.

In addition to the countries of the Middle East, Albania and Kosovo are important countries of origin in Europe’s migration wave. In 2015, more than 20 per cent of asylum requests in Germany were filed by Albanians and Kosovars. Under EU proposals these countries will be declared ‘safe’. Asylum is therefore unlikely to be granted and large numbers of migrants may be repatriated, straining local economies.