The Government increases support to middle-income countries receiving large numbers of refugees
Sweden is increasing support to middle-income countries that receive many refugee, such as Jordan and Lebanon. During a panel debate in connection with the World Bank’s spring meeting in Washington, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate Isabella Lövin announced that Sweden will increase its support to the Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF) by almost SEK 90 million (USD 10 Million) in additional funds.
The GCFF supports middle-income countries that receive refugees through concessional loans. At present, support via the GCFF is given to Jordan and Lebanon, which have received a large number of Syrian refugees, but in the future this support may also be available to other middle-income countries that take in refugees.
Over the last ten years, global humanitarian needs have increased considerably, mainly as a result of serious conflicts that have often led to protracted refugee situations. It is estimated that there are more than 60 million displaced people around the world. In the long term, the international community must resolve the root causes of conflicts and poverty that force people to leave their homes. While the acute need for life-sustaining measures has increased, there is also a growing need for more long-term measures.
“We must work to break the chronic refugee status that millions of people find themselves in. On average, it takes 17 years before a refugee returns to their home country or receives protection in another country. This is completely untenable. In the short term, the challenges are naturally enormous, but experience shows that prompt action to organise jobs and education is crucial to starting a new life and building a future,” says Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate Isabella Lövin.
In 2016, four projects were granted support from the GCFF, three in Jordan and one in Lebanon. The projects are aimed at job creation and dealing with the increased strain on sewage management, transport and energy. Within the framework of one of the projects in Jordan, 36 000 work permits were issued to Syrian refugees. Reforms to make it easier for Syrian refugees to enter the labour market create an opportunity to build a future, while the project contributes to Jordan’s economic development.
Swedish support to the GCFF
Of the Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR, some 650 000 are in Jordan and some 1 million are in Lebanon (figures from April 2017 and December 2016, respectively). There is also a large number of people who are not registered with UNHCR.
In the 2016 autumn amending budget, the Government allocated some SEK 180 million (USD 20 million) to the regional part of the GCFF, with focus on Jordan and Lebanon. At the same time, Sida is providing additional support of SEK 180 million (over a three-year period). Besides Sweden, contributors to the GCFF are Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway the UK, the US and the European Commission. Sweden is the fourth largest donor in terms of pledged contributions and the second largest donor in terms of contributions actually paid. The new support amounting to some SEK 90 million for the 2017 budget year will target other middle-income countries that receive many refugees.
Normally, middle-income countries borrow from the World Bank and other development banks on more expensive terms, but an extremely large refugee reception puts a great strain on the countries’ public finances and impacts infrastructure and public services, such as water, education and housing. The GCFF will therefore help ensure that recipient countries are better able to manage these expenses so that they can continue to pursue their own development agendas at the same time as the situation for refugees improves.