World Bank boosts funds for Syria refugees
Geneva , May 22, 2013
The World Bank plans substantial new funds to help Jordan cope with the influx of refugees from the civil war in Syria, and hopes new funds for central Africa will cement a peace deal there, the bank's President Jim Yong Kim said.
"There will be significant amounts of new funding going to Jordan in the very near future to deal with this crisis," he said in an interview, after a speech at the UN World Health Assembly in Geneva.
Jordan is one of Syria's four immediate neighbours, along with Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, inundated with refugees fleeing the two-year-old conflict in Syria. Of more than 1.5 million refugees, almost one-third are in Jordan.
The UN has warned the numbers could triple by the end of the year, but humanitarian agencies say Syria's neighbours are already shouldering a massive humanitarian burden, with many refugees camped with host families.
Jordan, which will be the venue for an international conference on Syria on Wednesday, has been turning away Syrian refugees for the past six days, aid workers said.
Kim said he was worried about the situation in the region and the World Bank stood ready to help. Jordan received a pledge of $250 million from the World Bank in January 2012 to help it cope with the economic downturn and the Syrian crisis, but King Abdullah asked Kim for more help two weeks ago.
"With Jordan, they are the first ones who have come and just asked me directly for increased assistance and we've said yes," Kim said.
"So we are using all of our flexibilities to try to increase our lending to them at very low rates so they will be able to respond to the humanitarian crisis."
Kim was speaking on the eve of a visit to Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, which he will make together with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. They later hope to visit the Sahel region in North Africa, Kim said.
MONEY FOR PEACE
The World Bank will announce new funding during the African trip, but the money will be contingent on countries abiding by a peace deal brokered by the UN in February.
"The whole idea is that we're trying to connect political, security and economic solutions," Kim said. "If you can keep the peace and provide better security and at the same time say: 'All right, as long as you obey these peace agreements we're going to really invest to try to help you create jobs in this region', we think that's the best hope." - Reuters