AP Interview: World Bank head looks at Lebanon aid

| Zoom

WASHINGTON (AP) - The World Bank is helping Lebanon prepare the ground to request an influx of international aid to offset the high costs of spillover from the Syrian civil war, the bank's president, Jim Yong Kim, said Tuesday.

Kim said in an interview with The Associated Press that the Lebanese government asked the World Bank to take the lead in preparing a quick assessment of the social and economic impacts of the war in neighboring Syria. This analysis will be presented at a Sept. 25 meeting of an international support group for Lebanon at the United Nations General Assembly.

Kim said the bank made a "very intensive effort" to finish the assessment in a few weeks, something that normally would take six to nine months.

Lebanon is hoping the World Bank's stamp on the analysis will underpin its request for aid from individual donor countries as well as international agencies. It will look at the enormous strains the Syrian conflict is putting on Lebanese tourism, trade, health, education and the burden on ordinary citizens.

"We have been preparing the path so that the global community can support Lebanon," Kim said, adding that he hopes funds will begin to flow once the assessment is presented at the U.N. The analysis was prepared in cooperation with U.N. agencies and the European Union, potential donors, but the World Bank led the effort.

The bank is looking for partners to provide grants to alleviate some of the strain on Lebanon's economy, government budget and infrastructure.

Lebanon, a country of about 4 million people, is grappling with an influx of more than a million refugees from Syria.

The World Bank said it could not provide a dollar figure for the aid Lebanon might request but the assessment is meant to help determine how much is needed now. It said the aid will augment help Lebanon gets from the U.N. refugee agency specifically to help with the costs of the refugees.

However, the conflict is now permeating the fabric of Lebanese society and the country feels broader assistance is needed.

The World Bank is already providing aid to Jordan, another Syrian neighbor, to help offset the costs of caring for hundreds of thousands more Syrian refugees. The bank provides loans and other assistance to developing countries with the goal of alleviating poverty.

Kim also said he was concerned that an escalation of the Syrian conflict would cause even greater human suffering and could disrupt access to oil, increasing prices and hurting the world's poor.

President Barack Obama is seeking the support of Congress for military action to punish the Syrian regime for alleging using chemical weapons on its own citizens.

"An increase in oil prices has very far reaching potential impacts on the well-being of especially the most vulnerable," he said.

"We would plead for all parties to really think hard about the human impact of any actions that are taken."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Car Prowl Hot Spots
    A new Seattle police study shows where you're most likely to get car prowled

  • What Are They Building?
    It's hard not to notice a cluster of construction cranes over Seattle's Roosevelt neighborhood

  • Holiday Map
    Find holiday events, Santa photo opportunities, and light displays
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.