New bond scheme for Mideast, N. Africa World Bank: World Bank official

A new international bond and grant scheme to help countries dealing with the fallout of war and instability in the Middle East and North Africa should be in place by spring, a senior World Bank official said.
In a Reuters interview, Hafez Ghanem, the World Bank's vice president for the Middle East and North Africa, said the type of investment targeted by the plan - education, infrastructure and jobs - was vital to addressing the region's refugee crises. He said that humanitarian aid alone was not enough and the alternative was “one or two lost generations” in a region with 15 million refugees or internally displaced people.

Ghanem spoke during a visit to Lebanon, which is struggling to cope with more than 1 million registered Syrian refugees who account for a quarter of the population. He said he could not remember a time in his nearly three-decade career of such high demand from middle-income countries for assistance. “The demand on our support is very high right now and it is going to increase, because as you bring peace through political or security measures, to make the peace hold, you need to give people opportunities and hope,” he said. “We are trying to raise more resources, that is why we have proposed this financing mechanism.”

The World Bank, United Nations and Islamic Development Bank last month announced the initiative that would ask donor countries to provide guarantees for bonds raising money for certain projects ranging from support for refugees to rebuilding to allow displaced people to return home.