Prior to the start of the crisis, the Bank was providing support to Syria through technical assistance, advisory services and policy advice on private sector development, human development, social protection and environmental sustainability. Due to the deterioration of the security situation in Syria, all World Bank operational activity and missions to Syria were halted in early 2011.
The Bank’s response in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is mainly focused on addressing the impact of the Syrian conflict on neighboring countries, and in particular, Lebanon and Jordan, where the Bank has conducted fundamental analytical work on the social and economic impact of the refugees in the neighboring countries, rapidly prepared projects to assist hosting communities, and mobilized substantial grant funding from donor partners to be channeled towards these efforts. For Syria, a remote, in-conflict damage assessment using satellite imagery and social media analytics is assessing the state of damage in six cities and six sectors.
In addition, the Bank is currently leading with a wide range of partners and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) on two new financing mechanisms under the MENA Financing Initiative. The first is a mechanism that offers countries affected by the Syrian conflict more favorable financing on concessional terms. The main Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries coping with large inflows of refugees—Lebanon and Jordan--are middle-income, and therefore do not have access to development financing on concessional terms. These countries face increased development financing needs given the costs of providing basic services to the refugee population (such as in the education, health, water and solid waste sectors). By combining grants from donors with loans from Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), this instrument provides concessionality on loans from MDBs to middle income countries hosting an influx of refugees. The second financing mechanism is to leverage guarantees from supporting countries to issue World Bank bonds that can provide financing for recovery and reconstruction projects in countries affected by conflict.
More specifically, the Bank has a robust program in the Mashreq countries bordering Syria, including: