International Community Endorses New Initiative to Support Refugees, Host Communities, and Recovery and Reconstruction in the MENA

In April 2016, 8 nations and the European Commission pledged a package of more than US$1 billion — including US$141 million in grants, US$1 billion in soft loans, and US$500 million in guarantees — to a World Bank-led financing initiative in support of Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon, as well as recovery and reconstruction across the region. The package means that the new facility will be able to generate up to US$800 million in concessional loans in the next year.

 

Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Commission each pledged their initial financial contributions to the New Financing Initiative to Support the Middle East and North Africa Region. The pledging occurred at a ministerial conference co-chaired by the President of the World Bank Group, the Secretary General of the United Nations and the President of the Islamic Development Bank Group. The conference brought together ministers from the G7, Gulf Cooperation Council, European and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, as well as the heads of various multilateral development banks and international organizations.

“Today’s strong show of support for the people of the Middle East and North Africa is an example of how the international community can come together to address major challenges,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “These grants mean we can now begin expanding programs to help Jordan and Lebanon cope with the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis, while guarantees will allow multi-lateral development banks to increase their financing in support of countries across the region confronting the multiple consequences of instability.  I am confident of mobilizing additional support for recovery and reconstruction, and reaching our goal of raising US$1 billion in grants over the next five years, which we will leverage to create US$3 to 4 billion in much needed concessional financing.”

 

The new financing initiative was launched jointly by the World Bank Group, the United Nations and the Islamic Development Bank Group in October of 2015. The goal of the initiative is to rally the international community and improve coordination among international organizations, to meet the scale of both the MENA region’s humanitarian and development needs. The three organizations formed a working group which — together with representatives of 26 supporting and benefitting countries, as well as nine regional and international organizations — has focused on developing the structure of the initiative and a roadmap for its implementation.

 

“The Syrian conflict continues to cause massive death, destruction and displacement. As we search for a political path towards peace, we also need a well-coordinated humanitarian and development response,” said United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. “The new MENA Financing Initiative will help neighboring countries provide services for Syrian refugees and their own citizens, while also addressing the development impact of the crisis. Together, we can restore human dignity, ensure access to education and lay the foundations for sustainable peace and stability.”

Through innovative financing, the initiative plans to provide concessional financing to Lebanon and Jordan, the middle-income countries most severely impacted by the Syrian refugee crisis, expand the funding available to countries struggling with slow growth and high youth unemployment as a result of instability, and to prepare for post-war reconstruction. An open platform will be established for the financing of programs, bringing together multilateral development banks and the UN for more coordinated and effective support to benefitting countries. 

Islamic Development Bank Group President, Dr. Mohamed Ali Al-Madani, said: “The region faces enormous challenges, and our development assistance is needed now more than ever, but it is critical that we unite to leverage our various comparative advantages. This approach received a resounding endorsement today, and it will guarantee that our assistance has maximum impact and that it addresses the full scope of the challenges.”

 

Over 15 million people in the MENA region have been forced from their homes over the past five years due to conflict and instability, taking an enormous humanitarian and economic toll. Along with the human suffering, immense pressures have been placed on the resources of host countries that were already facing significant economic challenges. In addition to the immediate costs, estimates to rebuild the war-torn areas are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Ongoing instability has also contributed to a regional economic slowdown, even in countries not directly affected by conflict.