Migrant Crisis and its Effects on Global Growth: A Case of Levant

INTRODUCTION

Syrian refugee crisis is not as new as it seems to most of us who do not follow the world politics as eagerly and religiously as we follow the national. The crisis did not start after the image of a three-year-old boy Aylan Kurdi lying lifeless on a Turkish beach turned viral. I find it sad that we get more emotional watching a fictional movie than knowing about the real life pains of real people. It is sad that when we see real problems of real people we turn a blind eye towards them. This is what happened really. Europe and the International community had for four years turned away from the crisis as if it never existed unless they were forced to speak on it. It is a shame that the international media also seemed to be much more bothered about the economic gains and losses related to the crisis than worrying about the humanitarian that it really is. This paper aims at finding out whether the crisis is as bad as it seems in terms of economic stability or whether it can actually turn out to be more beneficial in the long run for both the refugees and the nations that take them in.

Refugees from the wars of the Middle East are pouring into the European Union at an unprecedented rate. So are economic migrants from Africa and non-EU countries in the Balkans (Serbia, Bosnia, Albania, etc), and some of them claim to be refugees too. They are coming at the rate of about 3000 a day, mostly through Turkey into Greece or across the Mediterranean to Italy, and the EU says that it doesn’t know what to do about it.

It’s not really that big a refugee crisis: one million people at most this year, or one-fifth of 1 per cent of the European Union’s 500 million people. Little Lebanon (population 4.5 million) has already taken in a million refugees, as has Jordan (population 6.5 million). But while a few of the EU’s 28 countries are behaving well, many more have descended into a gibbering panic about being “overrun”.

Chancellor Angela Merkel put it bluntly: “If Europe fails on the question of refugees … it will not be the Europe we imagined.” She has put her money where her mouth is: two weeks ago she predicted that Germany would accept asylum claims from 800,000 refugees this year.

France, Italy and the Netherlands have also been fairly generous about granting refugees asylum, and quiet, gallant Sweden is accepting more refugees per capita than anybody else in the EU. But the good news stops here. Most other EU countries are refusing to take a fair share of the refugees, or even any at all.

CRISIS

An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, taking refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 3 million have fled to Syria’s immediate neighbours Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria. Meanwhile, under 150,000 Syrians have declared asylum in the European Union, while member states have pledged to resettle a further 33,000 Syrians. The vast majority of these resettlement spots — 28,500 or 85% — are pledged by Germany.

When did the crisis start?

Anti-government demonstrations began in March of 2011, part of the Arab Spring. But the peaceful protests quickly escalated after the government’s violent crackdown, and rebels began fighting back against the regime.

By July, army defectors had loosely organized the Free Syrian Army and many civilian Syrians took up arms to join the opposition. Divisions between secular and Islamist fighters, and between ethnic groups, continue to complicate the politics of the conflict.

What is happening to Syrians caught in the war?

More than four years after it began, the full-blown civil war has killed over 220,000 people, half of whom are believed to be civilians. Bombings are destroying crowded cities and horrific human rights violations are widespread. Basic necessities like food and medical care are sparse.

The U.N. estimates that 7.6 million people are internally displaced. When you also consider refugees, more than half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million is in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, whether they still remain in the country or have escaped across the borders.

In October, Russia began launching airstrikes at ISIS targets in Syria. This has changed the dynamics of the civil war a lot. The pro Assad Russian government headed by the strong Putin has made it clear to the US and the whole International Community that they do not distinguish between ISIS and the other rebels as far as the position of Bashar-al-Assad is concerned. They have given a strong message that they are there to protect the interest of Syria and the Middle East which according to them lies in the leadership of Assad.

But it is more than evident through the present scenario that the human aid organizations that have been working in close contact with the rebels have become more vulnerable than they ever were.

Where are they fleeing to?

The majority of Syrian refugees are living in Jordan and Lebanon, where the governments and human aid organizations like Mercy Corps has been addressing their needs since 2012. In the region’s two smallest countries, weak infrastructure and limited resources are nearing a breaking point under the strain.

In August 2013, more Syrians escaped into northern Iraq at a newly opened border crossing. Now they are trapped by that country’s own insurgent conflict, and Iraq is struggling to meet the needs of Syrian refugees on top of more than one million internally displaced Iraqis.

An increasing number of Syrian refugees are fleeing across the border into Turkey, overwhelming urban host communities and creating new cultural tensions.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees are also attempting the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Greece, hoping to find a better future in Europe. Not all of them make it across alive. Those who do make it to Greece still face steep challenges — resources are strained by the influx and services are minimal.

How are people escaping?

Thousands of Syrians flee their country every day. They often decide to finally escape after seeing their neighborhoods bombed or family members killed.

The risks on the journey to the border can be as high as staying: Families walk for miles through the night to avoid being shot at by snipers or being caught by soldiers who will kidnap young men to fight for the regime.

How many refugees are there?

Four million Syrians have registered or are awaiting registration with the United Nations High Commission of Refugees, who is leading the regional emergency response.

Every year of the conflict has seen an exponential growth in refugees. In 2012, there were 100,000 refugees. By April 2013, there were 800,000. That doubled to 1.6 million in less than four months. There are now four million Syrians scattered throughout the region, making them the world’s largest refugee population under the United Nations’ mandate.

At this rate, the U.N. predicts there could be 4.27 million Syrian refugees by the end of 2015 — the worst exodus since the Rwandan genocide 20 years ago.

Do all refugees live in camps?

No. Jordan’s Za’atari, the first official refugee camp that opened in July 2012, gets the most news coverage because it is the destination for newly arrived refugees. It is also the most concentrated settlement of refugees: Approximately 81,500 Syrians live in Za’atari, making it the country’s fourth largest city. The formerly barren desert is crowded with acres of white tents, makeshift shops line a “main street” and sports fields and schools are available for children.

A new camp, Azraq, opened in April 2014, carefully designed to provide a sense of community and security, with steel caravans instead of tents, a camp supermarket, and organized “streets” and “villages.”

Because Jordan’s camps are run by the government and the U.N. — with many partner organizations coordinating services — they offer more structure and support. But many families feel trapped, crowded, and even farther from any sense of home, so they seek shelter in nearby towns.

Iraq has set up a few camps to house the influx of refugees who arrived in 2013, but the majority of families are living in urban areas. And in Lebanon, the government has no official camps for refugees, so families have established makeshift camps or find shelter in derelict, abandoned buildings. In Turkey, the majority of refugees are trying to survive and find work, despite the language barrier, in urban communities.

The fact is, the majority of refugees live outside camps.

What conditions are refugees facing outside camps?

Some Syrians know people in neighboring countries who they can stay with. But many host families were already struggling on meager incomes and do not have the room or finances to help as the crisis drags on.

Refugees find shelter wherever they can. Human aid organizations have seen families living in rooms with no heat or running water, in abandoned chicken coops and storage sheds.

Most refugees must find a way to pay rent, even for derelict structures. Without any legal way to work in Jordan and Lebanon, they struggle to find odd jobs and accept low wages that often don’t cover their most basic needs. The situation is slightly better in the Kurdish Autonomous region of northern Iraq, where Syrian Kurds can legally work, but opportunities are now limited because of the conflict there. And language is still a barrier.

The lack of clean water and sanitation in crowded, makeshift settlements is an urgent concern. Diseases like cholera and polio can easily spread — even more life-threatening without enough medical services. In some areas with the largest refugee populations, water shortages have reached emergency levels; the supply is as low as 30 liters per person per day — one-tenth of what the average American uses.

The youngest refugees face an uncertain future. Some schools have been able to divide the school day into two shifts and make room for more Syrian students. But there is simply not enough space for all the children, and many families cannot afford the transportation to get their kids to school.

How many refugees are children?

According to the U.N., more than half of all Syrian refugees are under the age of 18. Most have been out of school for months, if not years.

The youngest are confused and scared by their experiences, lacking the sense of safety and home they need. The older children are forced to grow up too fast, finding work and taking care of their family in desperate circumstances.

Is there enough assistance to reach everyone?

In December 2014, the U.N. issued its largest ever appeal for a single crisis — according to their estimates, $8.4 billion is necessary to meet the needs of all those affected by the crisis, both inside and outside Syria, an increase from last year’s $6.5 billion. Yet that previous appeal was only funded less than 50 percent.

Many humanitarian organizations are partnering with the U.N., using both private contributions and funding from the international community to actively address the needs of Syrians caught in this terrible disaster. But so much more must be done.

Refugee Crisis and Sustainable Development

Though Europe’s refugee debacle has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, it is actually only a relatively small piece of a far larger displacement crisis. Across the globe, nearly 60 million people are currently displaced from their homes by war or human rights violations — the highest number since World War II. If these displaced people lived in one place, they would comprise the 24th largest country in the world.

Most of the displaced live in countries outside of Europe, including Colombia (6 million), Sudan (3.1 million), the DRC (2.9 million), Pakistan (1.9 million), South Sudan (1.5 million), Somalia (1.2 million), and Nigeria (1.1 million). For the displaced in these and many other countries, the cameras stopped rolling years ago, and their plight has been largely forgotten. Precisely because this situation has arisen over such an expanse of geography and time, political leaders and the broader public has trouble conceiving it as a “crisis” at all.

When world leaders gather at the United Nations this week, they will understandably focus on Europe’s fresh refugee crisis. But it would be a mistake to overlook the much larger challenge forced displacement poses for poorer people and poorer governments in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.

On the agenda for approval by the UN General Assembly are the “Sustainable Development Goals” — 17 sweeping development goals and 169 associated targets that have been painstakingly drafted over the past five years. Everything from eliminating poverty to promoting health, gender equality, and fighting climate change is on the agenda. Yet the development goals are conspicuously silent about human displacement, even though it arguably poses insurmountable challenges to governments’ ability to implement the goals.

People who flee their homes during conflict are generally expected to be able to return soon after. On average, however, conflict-induced displacement lasts 17 years. What begins as a short-term humanitarian crisis often morphs into a long-term development challenge, as the displaced look to a new government or community for basic services such as health care, food, education, and water.

Recognizing the clear link between displacement and development, a target addressing forced displacement was originally included in the draft of the Sustainable Development Goals. In the final stages of the negotiations, however, it was deleted. The leader of the UN Refugee Agency and the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and the Secretary General’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons sought to re-include a substantive target on forced displacement, but they did not succeed. It was deemed too politically sensitive by the negotiators. Instead, it was referenced in declaration at the beginning of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Excluding a substantive target on forced displacement from global development goals was a mistake 15 years ago. Today, as 60 million people across the globe are displaced inside their country or as refugees, it verges on criminal.

Displacement due to conflict or disasters has occurred on every continent and is a universal challenge. From Syria to the Central African Republic to Afghanistan to the Democratic Republic of Congo, long-term displacement has overwhelmed state capacity. It certainly is a long-term development challenge with political, economic, environmental and security implications.

Forced displacement and its consequences are not issues the world can wish away. When the last global development goals were adopted in 2000, there were 25 million people displaced in their own country. By 2012, there were nearly 29 million. Today, there are 38 million. That’s in addition to the 20 million who have crossed a border to become a refugee.

Nor is forced displacement an issue that can be considered the sole writ of the humanitarian community. The humanitarian community does not have the financial resources to respond to the needs of the world’s displaced. It does not have the expertise to address long-term state capacity building. And it does not have the power to convince countries to devise solutions for displaced people who may never be able to return home. The development community needs to be engaged from the onset of a crisis to ensure that the development dimensions of displacement are adequately addressed.

At this late date, it is not possible to change the Sustainable Development Goals. But it is not too late for world leaders to pledge — on their own — to address global displacement as development plans are drawn up over the next 15 years.

How the mainstream picture is different from realities?

Let’s first put things into perspective. This year up until July the EU received 513,580 applications for asylum (including Syrians and others). Since January 2012 the number has been 1.9 million, which makes the size of the “swarms” and“invasion” of “marauder” asylum seekers equivalent to a mere 0.37 percent of the EU population. Over the same period, Lebanon — a country with many institutional and political challenges of its own — has registered 1.1 million Syrian refugees. Without including the tens of thousands of unregistered refugees, this figure is still a quarter of Lebanon’s population, comparable to the EU taking in 127 million refugees. Even if the EU were to follow Turkey’s example and take in “just” 2.6 percent of its own population as refugees, it would pretty much single-handedly solve the global refugee crisis by absorbing 13 of the 14.4 million refugees registered with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

‘Crushing our economies’

So assume you are in a country that has taken in a quarter, or even 2.6 percent, of your population as refugees fleeing war and prosecution. Would your economy collapse? Last time we checked, that was not quite the case. The Lebanese economy has been growing beyond expectations over the past two years, with the World Bank estimating 2.5 percent growth in real terms this year, the country’s highest growth rate since 2010. That is remarkable considering the hugely negative spillovers of the Syrian war on Lebanon in terms of armed conflict, and tourism and investments declining markedly, especially from Gulf countries. This economic resilience in the face of large inflows of refugees has been the case for Jordan (which has taken 630,000 Syrian refugees or around 10 percent of its population) and Turkey as well, with both economies growing consistently throughout the refugees’ inflow.

In fact, the inflow of refugees has arguably helped the Lebanese economy withstand the negative effect of its neighbor’s civil war. Refugees have been an important source of demand for locally produced services in Lebanon, funded from own savings and labor income, from remittances of relatives abroad and from international aid. In a recent World Bank report we estimate that an additional 1 percent increase in Syrian refugees increases Lebanese service exports by 1.5 percent. And the UNHCR and U.N. Development Program estimate a similar economy-wide impact from the $800 million that the U.N. spends annually on Syrian refugees in Lebanon. These effects are not unique to Syrian refugees. Burundian and Rwandan refugees fleeing war in the 1990s have generated net economic gains for their Tanzanian host communities.

‘Taking our jobs’

While the fear of economic collapse does not withstand serious scrutiny, a more founded concern may be that not everyone in the host economy will benefit from a large influx of refugees. A lot more refugees competing for jobs can reduce employment opportunities and/or wages for the host community’s residents. Again, a closer look at the data dispels most of these fears. Recent research finds that while Syrian refugees in Turkey — the majority of whom have no formal work permits — have displaced unskilled informal and part-time workers, they have also generated more formal non-agricultural jobs and an increase in average wages for Turkish workers. In addition, many of the displaced workers have gone back to school and may well increase their wages once they return to the labor market. This picture is also consistent with the Jordanian case, where unemployment has not increased in areas where Syrians have resettled, as Syrian workers have tended to find employment in low-skill sectors that Jordanians typically avoid. And this evidence is consistent with that on the net impact of migrants on host countries’ labor markets, which is typically small and if anything positive on average.

‘Wasting our tax dollars’

The most persistent economic worriers would probably point to the fiscal burden of ensuring EU-style living standards to a large number of refugees. The experience of Turkey comes in handy once again. Turkey has provided free access to health care and education to all registered refugees and has built camps that have become a “model for the perfect refugee camp.” To provide these services the Turkish government has spent nearly 5.37 billion euros since the refugees first began arriving, entirely funded through its own fiscal resources. While this is undoubtedly a lot of money, there is no indication that this spending has jeopardized the country’s fiscal sustainability. This should be even more the case for the EU, whose economy is 23 times larger than Turkey’s. Moreover if allowed to work, newly arrived migrants can increase their net fiscal contribution to the host economy.

Of course all this does not imply that handling a large influx of foreigners (refugees or otherwise) is not a challenging undertaking for the receiving country. Social, political, and even economic strains associated with the refugees’ inflow have been and continue to be key challenges to Syria’s neighbours. But these neighbours have shown the much richer EU countries that there need not be insurmountable economic (or even social and political) costs associated with fulfilling the moral obligation of helping those fleeing wars and prosecution. With proper planning and goodwill, EU countries would be able to welcome a vastly larger share of refugees than they have been doing so far. This is also what more and more proud EU citizens have been demanding.

The Case of Germany

Germany’s population is dwindling. The birth rates are equally shocking. So too is the working-age population which is Europe’s biggest economy. Overall population of Germany is predicted to fall from 82miliion to 65million by 2060. Between 2000 and 2013, Germany’s birth rate dropped by 11 per cent

Europe’s Population Policy Acceptance Study found that 23 per cent of German men thought ‘zero’ was the ideal family size.

  • Population in 2013–81.8 million
  • Population in 2003–82.53 million
  • Population in 2060–66 million (est.)
  • Population growth rate in 2011–0%

Without immigrant families, the number of newly born children in Germany would reach only 400,000 in a country of 82 million

The fall of population means shortage of skills and that shortage of skills runs into billions a year. Adding to this is that workers lack the necessary qualifications giving rise to unemployed or part-time workers.

The immediate response has been to attract multinationals and lure them but perks have to be part of the deal. The alternate option of refugees has been on the minds of policy makers.

This situation is no different to other countries of Europe.

Low birth rate, few marriages, marriages without children, divorce, no marriage in view of gay trend and this extrapolated leave a very scary picture for the traditionalists. It also has raised alarm for policy makers who have lost confidence in outsourcing and are now looking at insourcing where they feel productivity can be better when things are within their turf and under their noses.

Refugee Crisis more political than humanitarian

People are being forced to believe that the European Refugee crisis is a sudden unprecedented crisis, which Europe has to bear with as its “humanitarian duty” and that it is the creation of the forces that are dangerous for the whole world. The truth on the contrary is that this crisis is not only theintermediate product of West’s own plans in the Middle East but will also serve their future plans.

I have been arguing for well over two years that West is not only directly but wholly responsible for Syrian Civil War. Fed up with its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, America-led Western Coalition decided to replace wars with civil wars. Wars had given them billions of dollars in terms of arms trade but had also consumed several thousands of their lives. The army had grown tired of it. It would be a better idea to plunge the area into civil wars. “Arab Springs” began and it soon became clear that these “springs” were ablaze with infernos. Libyan leader Gaddafi was thrown out, and the weapons from there were sent to Syria in order to topple the Syrian President Assad who was considered one of the three Axes of Evils, Iran and Hezbollah being the other two. ISIS was allowed to grow in strength and given huge weaponry as well as billions of dollars. When last year Assad succeeded in turning tables on the rebels, ISIS moved into Iraq. Initially it was used to replace Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki whose closeness to Iran irked America. Once the purpose was served, the ISIS suddenly became the “most dangerous” terrorist outfit of the world.

The American involvement in Syria has now become well known. Alex Kane says:

“Here are four ways the U.S. is currently intervening in Syria.

1. Light Arms to Rebels

The most direct form of American intervention is the flow of small arms to rebels in the south of Syria, where they control some territory. In late January, Reuters revealed that Congress had approved funding for months of further arms deliveries.,,,,

The move is a stark contrast to last summer, when reservations about whether the weapons could end up with Islamic fundamentalists caused Congress to dry up the flow of weapons. ….

2. U.S. Training

One of the first substantial interventionist moves the U.S. made was its decision to train Syrian rebels. Since late 2012, the CIA and U.S. special forces troops stationed in Jordan and Turkey have trained Syrian opposition forces. The training was started months before arms began to flow to the rebels……

3. Non-Lethal Aid

In early 2013, the Obama administration announced it was sending $60 million in “non-lethal” aid to the Free Syrian Army in the form of food rations and medical supplies. In April 2013, the U.S. said it would double the amount of “non-lethal aid sent to Syria, which is meant in part to allow Syrian opposition forces to provide essential services on the ground in areas they control. This time, the non-lethal aid included things like communications equipment, vehicles and night-vision goggles. In other words, the kind of aid necessary for rebels to be lethal……

4. Sanctions

Syria has been under some form of Western sanctions for decades. But in the aftermath of Assad’s brutal crackdown on protesters when the uprising began in 2011, more sanctions were imposed………

The Obama administration froze all the assets of the Syrian government as a response to the armed force the government used on demonstrators. The U.S. has also prohibited “all new investment in Syria by a U.S. person, the provision of any U.S. services to Syria, and any transaction in or related to petroleum products of Syrian origin,” as Human Rights First explained. In June 2013, the U.S. announced it was easing the sanctions on rebel-controlled areas of Syria to facilitate the exports of commodities like technology and software, and for items relating to water sanitation, food processing and more…”

But the events of the last two years have clearly shown that despite all the propaganda against ISIS, it has continued to be a friendly enemy of West. It is enemy in Iraq and friend in Syria. If West had wanted, it would have destroyed ISIS by now. But it won’t do that, till Assad remains in power in Syria. ISIS has been clearly told that it would not be confronted till it restricts its operations in Syria.

The creation of ISIS by America too is now accepted by the analysts. An article in the Guardian, Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq by Seumas Milne says:

“The defence argued that going ahead with the trial would have been an “affront to justice” when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself providing “extensive support” to the armed Syrian opposition…

That didn’t only include the “non-lethal assistance” boasted of by the government (including body armour and military vehicles), but training, logistical support and the secret supply of “arms on a massive scale”. Reports were cited that MI6 had cooperated with the CIA on a “rat line” of arms transfers from Libyan stockpiles to the Syrian rebels in 2012 after the fall of the Gaddafi regime…

But terrorism is now squarely in the eye of the beholder. And nowhere is that more so than in the Middle East, where today’s terrorists are tomorrow’s fighters against tyranny — and allies are enemies — often at the bewildering whim of a western policymaker’s conference call……

For the past year, US, British and other western forces have been back in Iraq, supposedly in the cause of destroying the hyper-sectarian terror group Islamic State (formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq). This was after Isis overran huge chunks of Iraqi and Syrian territory and proclaimed a self-styled Islamic caliphate………

A revealing light on how we got here has now been shown by a recently declassified secret US intelligence report, written in August 2012, which uncannily predicts — and effectively welcomes — the prospect of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. In stark contrast to western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies al-Qaida in Iraq (which became Isis) and fellow Salafists as the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” — and states that “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” were supporting the opposition’s efforts to take control of eastern Syria……

Raising the “possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality”, the Pentagon report goes on, “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)”…..

A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state” — despite the “grave danger” to Iraq’s unity — as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria……….

That doesn’t mean the US created Isis, of course, though some of its Gulf allies certainly played a role in it — as the US vice-president, Joe Biden, acknowledged last year. But there was no al-Qaida in Iraq until the US and Britain invaded. And the US has certainly exploited the existence of Isis against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western control………

In reality, US and western policy in the conflagration that is now the Middle East is in the classic mould of imperial divide-and-rule. American forces bomb one set of rebels while backing another in Syria, and mount what are effectively joint military operations with Iran against Isis in Iraq while supporting Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen. However confused US policy may often be, a weak, partitioned Iraq and Syria fit such an approach perfectly…….

What’s clear is that Isis and its monstrosities won’t be defeated by the same powers that brought it to Iraq and Syria in the first place, or whose open and covert war-making has fostered it in the years since. Endless western military interventions in the Middle East have brought only destruction and division.”

West has again grown in hope that Bashar al Assad’s regime would not survive the latest assaults by ISIS. It will allow the Refugee Crisis to build till Assad is gone. This is not without reason that Saudi Arab, Qatar and Kuwait have not been pressurised to absorb at least a substantial percentage of refugees. They will of course be made to pay the bills. Till Assad Regime is in place, ISIS will not be attacked. As soon as the fall of Syrian regime becomes imminent, war against ISIS will be launched. This may come sooner than later. With Iranian Nuclear deal, Iran’s support to Assad may also be neutralised. This is what at least the Western powers believe.

Conclusion

Syrian Refugee crisis is undoubtedly a complex issue having multiple sides to it. On one hand, there are people who think this to be a burden on the world, especially Europe. On the other hand, many believe that it will ultimately benefit the world, especially European countries. Politically, this has built pressure on the world powers to find an urgent solution to the Syrian crisis. An end to the Syrian crisis with defeat of ISIS and installation of a popular government in Syria will create an atmosphere of goodwill and peace. Peace in itself is a catalyst to economic development. With Nuclear Treaty between Iran and US and European countries, peace in Syria will multiply the advantages that are expected from the Nuclear Deal. European countries are passing through a phase of severe economic turmoil. At the same time, they are facing shortage of youth, particularly the skilled and unskilled labour class. The population growth has become negative in most European countries and the percentage of youth in the population is fast declining. Migrants from Syria can fill this void. Whatever is spent on these refuges ultimately remains within the countries and boosts economy by creating new consumers and new markets. Not only will the refugees spend in the same countries, they will also pay tax on what they earn as well as on what they spend. With the business opportunities with Iran suddenly brightening up, these refuges will help in several industries. Countries like France, Austria, Italy and Germany are making big plans to develop economic ties with Iran. They will also be getting cheaper oil and other energy resources from Iran. In turn, they will be helping Iran in providing the technical knowhow and advanced equipments needed in Iran. Iranian students are also going to come in big numbers for higher studies in Europe.

In short, even if the refugee crisis may appear to be a crisis in the shorter run, this crisis has the potential of unfolding an economic revolution in Europe. By giving a rousing welcome to the refugees, they have also earned the good will of oil-rich Muslim countries. Once Syrian crisis is over, trade with Syria, Lebanon and Iraq will also get a huge boost. The only challenge for Europe and the rest of the world is to peacefully resolve the crisis in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. Once this is done, not only Europe, ultimately the whole word will reap benefits.


Originally written in 2014