European Commission, 8 countries pledge $1b for refugee crisis

The 17 SDGs
The 17 SDGs

Government ministers from around the world confronted the refugee crisis, a slowing economy, and other global challenges at the 2016 World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual Spring Meetings.

The World Bank reports, the only item on the agenda of the Development Committee which represents the 189 shareholder countries of the World Bank Group and the IMF, was “Forced Displacement and Development.”

Member countries were reportedly urged to take action to support vulnerable people who have been forced to flee their homes, and were also encouraged to partner with humanitarian organizations to help forcibly displaced people and host communities confront the root causes of the problem.

“We will not reach our end poverty goal unless nations are secure and citizens are not confronted by conflict and violence,” Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group said.

“The tragedy of forced displacement causes a tremendous amount of human suffering, as we have seen on a daily basis with the Syrian refugee crisis.”

According to World Bank communications, eight countries and the European Commission, pledged a package of more than $1 billion in support of Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon, as well as reconstruction in the Middle East and North Africa.

Japan, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, and the European Commission also pledged contributions to the New Financing Initiative to Support the Middle East and North Africa Region launched jointly by the World Bank Group, the United Nations, and the Islamic Development Bank Group last October.

Officials at the meeting called for a new approach to forced displacement and the refugee crisis that has spread from the Middle East into Europe over the last year.

“We must respond to this monumental crisis with monumental solidarity,” the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, adding that the issue will be addressed at next month’s World Humanitarian Summit.

“Countries are facing the refugee crisis and other global challenges such as climate change in an environment of slowing global growth. The Development Committee asked the World Bank and the IMF to provide developing countries with policy advice and financial support amid weak demand, tighter financial markets, softening trade, persistently low oil and commodity prices, and volatile capital flows,” the World Bank said in a statement, adding that demand for lending from the Bank is at its highest for a non-crisis period and is on track to climb to more than $150 billion over four years.

“We’re now working urgently and in new ways with partners to find solutions to these issues that affect all of us”, Jim Yong Kim was quoted as saying, addressing the media at the beginning of the meetings.

One of those issues is climate change and the Development Committee is reported to have welcomed the World Bank Climate Change Action Plan to help developing countries add 30 gigawatts of renewable energy – enough to power 150 million homes – to the world’s energy capacity.

The energy addition is expected to bring early warning systems to 100 million people, and develop climate-smart agriculture investment plans for at least 40 countries by 2020.

On health, the Development Committee urged the World Bank to work with the World Health Organization and others to help developing countries strengthen their health systems, including pandemic prevention and preparedness, and for the World Bank to finish preparing its Pandemic Emergency Facility “as soon as possible and foster a new market for pandemic risk management insurance.”

Jim Yong Kim and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake urged global and national leaders to step up and accelerate action and investment in nutrition and early childhood development programmes as a critical foundation for equitable development and economic growth.

“The committee urged the World Bank and IMF to step up efforts to find financing for the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals approved in September, which are expected to require far more resources than official development aid can supply. It said the multilateral development banks should partner to support developing countries’ efforts to meet the SDGs, while adjusting to a slower growth environment and reduced private capital flows,” World Bank communications said.

The committee said gender equality is central to the SDGs and welcomed the Bank Group’s renewed gender strategy.

The World Bank President announced an investment of $2.5 billion in education projects benefiting adolescent girls over the next five years.

The committee said the International Development Association the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, remains an important source of financing for these countries and asked donors to show strong support for IDA’s replenishment this year.

By Emmanuel Odonkor

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