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World Bank Officials Call On Shareholders To Give Financial Support To Syria’s Neighboring Countries As Resettlement Of Refugees Continue

by Czarelli Tuason / Oct 29, 2015 11:16 PM EDT
Syrian refugee children in Jordan. (Photo by Jordan Pix/Getty Images)

As more and more countries take part in humanitarian efforts to provide assistance to displaced Syrians, the World Bank gives their share by calling on their shareholders to extend financial support to the neighboring countries of Syria, who are now faced with the dilemma of resettling them, reported SBS on Friday.

Over four million displaced Syrians are looking for resettlement and most of them are knocking on the doors of their neighbors Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and all the way across to Europe.

International affairs expert Dr. Wesley Widmaier recognizes that the situation induces major financial burden to these neighboring countries.

"They're spending between one and two per cent of GDP on dealing with the refugee crisis," noted Widmaier. "That may not sound like a lot, but America spends three per cent of its GDP on defense. So it's a pretty big commitment and it's a pretty big shock to the system."

The World Bank aims to lessen the load on these countries by compensating for the expenses incurred from the situation.

"We recognize that for many of these countries there is a cost associated with hosting refugees and so they need to be compensated," said Colin Bruce, Senior Adviser to the World Bank President, "and we are quite prepared to enter into that dialogue with our shareholders as to how we support the compensation of countries, and in particular the middle-income countries that often do not have access to concessional resources, and that's the conversation that is taking place."

According to Reuters on Thursday, humanitarian officials acknowledge the policy of the World Bank that forbids it from offering grants to middle-income nations, resulting to a large funding gap for countries who are left to take in displaced Syrians.

Bruce also noted that refugees and migrants may be beneficial to a country's economy in the long run and wanted to remind governments regarding policies that provide dividends from hosting displaced individuals.

"The underlying value is it's got to help countries in times of crisis," stressed Widmaier. "So the fact that they're changing their rules to lend today to middle-income countries who they're not supposed to lend to, it's not a change in their values to the extent that this is the largest refugee crisis since the 1940s."

"It's perfectly in tune with what the World Bank is about - to lend funds today to help rebuild, especially in a time and a context where private capital may not be willing," he added. "So the World Bank has a kind of special legitimacy and image."

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