HRNW REPORT: WASHINGTON, March 18, 2016 — World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will visit Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia from March 24 to 28. In Lebanon, they will be joined by the President of the Islamic Development Bank Group Dr. Mohammed Ali Al-Madani. The joint visit aims to communicate the international community’s commitment to supporting the region as it copes with the consequences of conflict and instability, and to strengthen the growing partnerships between the organizations.
“The Middle East and North Africa region is at a critical juncture,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “We will work even more closely with the United Nations, the Islamic Development Bank and other partners so that we can help both the refugees who have been forced from their homes and the communities that have generously taken them in. This is our urgent task: ensuring that countries in the region have the resources to cope with large flows of refugees.”
During the visit, Dr. Kim, Dr. Ali and Mr. Ban will meet with heads of state, government leaders, as well as private sector and civil society representatives, to discuss the impact of conflict, their strategies for building resilience and how the combined strengths of the three institutions can help. The leaders are scheduled to visit refugees and hosting communities in Lebanon and Jordan. The visit will also focus on addressing widespread youth unemployment through improving the quality and relevance of education, and promoting economic empowerment and opportunities. In Tunisia, the visit will voice support for the country’s transition, as Government continues to strike a balance between maintaining security and pursuing economic reforms to restore investor confidence and stimulate job creation which is key for peace and stability.
The World Bank Group has reoriented its strategy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to promote peace and stability as the necessary conditions for development. Working with partners, the aim is to focus directly on the causes of conflict, while helping countries address its consequences and to recover and rebuild. The new strategy is built on four main pillars:
- Restore trust between citizens and their governments with greater accountability and improved services,
- Promote increased regional cooperation around the shared priorities of education, energy and water,
- Support countries and communities hosting large numbers of refugees, to strengthen their resilience,
- Prepare for reconstruction whenever and wherever peace emerges.
To raise the volume of financing needed to implement the new strategy, and to rally the international community around the common goal of promoting peace and stability in the region, the World Bank Group has partnered with the United Nations and the Islamic Development Bank Group. Together they have convened the international community to develop the New Financing Initiative to Support the MENA Region, which aims to: (i) provide concessional financing to support refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon, the middle income countries of the region that have been the most impacted by the Syrian refugee crisis; and (ii) raise a greater volume of financing needed for post-conflict reconstruction and economic recovery for countries across the MENA region. Importantly, this initiative will create a unique platform among multilateral development banks and the UN to strengthen coordination on development assistance to the region at this critical juncture.
At the Supporting Syria and the Region conference that took place in February in London, the World Bank Group announced that it will triple its investment in the region as compared to the previous five years. Funding from the New Financing Initiative to Support the MENA Region combined with current programs is expected to total about US$20 billion over the coming five years. Furthermore, the New Financing Initiative to Support the MENA Region aims to raise US$1 billion in grants from donors over the next five years, which will be leveraged to provide US$3 to US$4 billion in highly concessional loans for Jordan and Lebanon. In addition, in response to the current crisis, the World Bank Board of Directors have taken the extraordinary measure of approving US$200 million in direct concessional financing to create jobs and increase access to education in Jordan and Lebanon.