World Bank chief urges fresh thinking on refugees

9 Oct 15

The World Bank is ready to help governments support refugees, including asking developed countries to take charge of capital market loans that displaced people might use to start businesses and create jobs elsewhere.

Speaking at a press briefing during the International Monetary Fund/World Bank annual meeting in Lima, the bank’s president Jim Yong Kim said countries whose populations are ageing or contracting might benefit from an influx of refugees or migrants.

But he also accepted that the number of people seeking refugee status in Europe and the Middle East was posing a major challenge for governments. On average, refugees remained so for 17 years, so political leaders had to think beyond short-term humanitarian responses.

“The World Bank Group has been assisting the host communities of the refugees in Lebanon and Jordan for the past few years, and now are [sic] exploring new ways to increase help for Syria's neighbours,” he said.

Asked to be more specific about plans, Kim said it was time to “think outside the box” with governments in more advanced economies assisting those countries directly affected by a sudden increase in population.

“One of things we could do is to go to the capital markets, take a loan, and then, for example, another developed country could buy down the interest on the loan to make it much better terms,” he added.

“Then we could build infrastructure, for example, and that infrastructure could lead to the creation of jobs, for both Syrians and, say, Lebanese or Jordanians.”

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