The entry of Syrian refugees into Lebanon and Jordan has resulted in unprecedented social and economic challenges to both countries. These are felt on a day-to-day basis by all Lebanese and Jordanian citizens whether through higher rents and declining public service availability, or through health and education infrastructure that is stretched beyond its limits. There is no doubt that both host countries have been incredibly generous to refugees, particularly at the societal level. However, the tensions between host communities and refugees within Lebanese society are obvious and in both countries a lot of government and societal discourse about refugees has become palpably resentful.
Even if a meaningful political settlement and ceasefire inside Syria are achieved, the refugees are likely to remain where they are for many years; the crisis therefore requires long-term planning on the part of host governments in collaboration with local civil society and multinational institutions. Specifically, it requires attention to economic development needs, including infrastructure upgrading and job creation, to improve life for all vulnerable populations, refugees and host communities.
The most effective way to tackle the Syrian refugee crisis is for neighbouring states to assume a leading role in development spending, infrastructure upgrading and job creation, particularly in the most underdeveloped regions of those countries.