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'World Bank to offer $200m in concessional financing to Jordan, Lebanon'

By JT - Feb 06,2016 - Last updated at Feb 06,2016

AMMAN — The World Bank plans to offer $200 million in concessional financing (loans on favourable terms) to Jordan and Lebanon in response to the Syrian refugee crisis.

"The world owes a great debt to those two nations, who have generously helped Syrians, even though it has meant great sacrifice for their people and their economies," a statement quoted World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim as saying.

The purpose of the $200 million in funding is to help create jobs and increase access to education in those countries, Kim noted.

“More than 2 million refugees from Syria are now in the neighbouring countries of Jordan and Lebanon," he said.

The World Bank made the announcement on Thursday at the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference in London, highlighting plans to triple its funding commitment to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to almost $20 billion over the next five years, according to the statement.

In addition, the World Bank, in partnership with the Islamic Development Bank and the UN, launched the MENA Financing Initiative to make further financing available to the region. 

For Jordan and Lebanon, the initiative aims to provide $3-4 billion in concessional finance, while using $1 billion in grants from donor countries to reduce the interest rate on the loans, the statement said.

The MENA Financing Initiative will also include a second facility that will support countries in the region recovering from war and instability by issuing special bonds, including sukuk (Islamic bonds), on the international financial markets.

The World Bank president also pointed to a proposal for special economic and industrial zones near Jordan's border with Syria as a way to create jobs for both refugees and host communities, according to the statement. 

Jordan's government, the UK’s Department for International Development and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Word Bank’s private sector arm, are collaborating on the proposal, which aims to attract foreign investors and support the relocation of displaced Syrian businesses, the statement said.

“In short, we are doing all we can to find innovative ways to help these countries [hosting Syrian refugees],” Kim was quoted as saying. 

“We are exploring the creation of special economic zones, and encouraging investments in municipal projects and labour intensive work. Our purpose is to create mutual benefit for the host communities as well as the refugees.”

These financing initiatives form part of a new World Bank strategy in the MENA region that focuses on working with partners to address the causes of instability, the statement said. 

 

The strategy's goals are to promote measures to rebuild the relationship between the state and its citizens, boost the resilience of countries coping with the consequences of conflict and hosting large numbers of refugees, strengthen mechanisms for regional cooperation and prepare for recovery and reconstruction, according to the World Bank.

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