12/11/15 - The number of refugees and people under temporary protection is unparalleled in recent times. Countries neighbouring Syria host more than 4 million Syrians and the European Union faces a persistent pressure on its external borders as well as on its asylum system. Moreover, given the complexity of its main driving forces, there is unfortunately little hope that the situation will improve significantly in the near future. Taking into account the severity of the crisis, a strong response of the international community is required to provide adequate support to the many refugees and asylum seekers and to better share the cost and strengthen international coordination.
Immediate policy responses have had to deal with saving lives at sea; providing emergency support to refugees and asylum seekers; reinforcing border controls; improving the EU’s co-ordination and burden-sharing mechanisms and improving coordination mechanisms with origin and transit countries. “These actions need to be further pursued and in some cases reinforced, but above all they need to be complemented by active measures focused on the medium- and longer-term challenges, with a view to foster the integration of refugees and their children and to start rebuilding trust on migration issues,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria today.
To respond to the emergency situation, receiving countries have scaled up public finances notably to process asylum applications and provide immediate support to refugees. In the short term, these additional fiscal measures should provide a modest boost to aggregate demand as estimated by the latest edition of the OECD Economic Outlook. A new OECD policy note also shows that the effects on host country labour markets should build up progressively over time as refugees become better integrated and as they reunite with their family. The ultimate impact will therefore depend on the capacity of receiving economies and societies to harness of human capital of recently arrived refugees and promote their full integration. “This is a challenge OECD countries have to face now,” said Mr Gurria.