turkey syria refugees.jpg
Photograph: EPA/SEDAT SUNA

Eight countries and the European Commission are pledging more than 1.6 billion dollars toward financing for a World Bank-led initiative to support Syrian refugees and region-wide recovery.

The package includes 141 million dollars in grants, 1 billion dollars in loans and 500 million dollars in guarantees for the initiative, which is aimed at both refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict and host communities in neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon.

The effort - the New Financing Initiative to Support the Middle East and North Africa Region - could generate up to 800 million dollars in concessional loans in the next year, the World Bank said in Washington.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the international community can begin to "restore human dignity, ensure access to education and lay the foundations for sustainable peace and stability" through the initiative.

"The Syrian conflict continues to cause massive death, destruction and displacement," he said. "As we search for a political path towards peace, we also need a well-coordinated humanitarian and development response."

Japan, France, Britain, the United States, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and the European Commission each made pledges of initial financial contributions, in a conference Friday during the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Ministers attended from the Group of Seven major advanced economies, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and countries across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said this week that basic reconstruction inside Syria - whenever the now five-year conflict ends - is estimated at 150 billion dollars or more.

"These grants mean we can now begin expanding programmes to help Jordan and Lebanon cope with the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis," he said, "while guarantees will allow multilateral development banks to increase their financing in support of countries across the region confronting the multiple consequences of instability."

Kim said he hoped to reach a goal of 1 billion dollars in grants over the next five years, which the World Bank, a Washington-based development lender, can leverage into more than 3 billion dollars in financing.

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