The World Bank is moving ahead to support low-income countries hosting large numbers of refugees. Under the 18th replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA18) – the Bank’s fund for the poorest countries – a $2 billion financing window is now available to help manage these crises with longer term solutions, which will benefit both refugees and host communities. Eight countries in Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa regions have been found eligible for assistance so far, and discussions are underway with several other countries for potential support.
As refugee crises increase in scale and complexity, the plight of forcibly displaced people and their hosts presents significant challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Bank’s twin goals to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. Given that almost 90% of refugees live in developing countries, with displacement spanning many years, development programs that address the social and economic dimensions of these crises are urgently needed to complement a humanitarian response.
IDA18 financing for refugees and hosts is part of the Bank’s effort to strengthen support in this area, putting a clear focus on policy change. Today, many governments are embarking on ambitious reforms to adopt more inclusive approaches to refugees and host communities, based on their commitments at the 2016 Leaders’ Summit on Refugees. Access to new financing presents an opportunity for them to translate these ideas into actual policies that can make a difference on the ground.
Following a discussion by the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors in September, eight countries – Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Niger, Pakistan, and Uganda – are now eligible to access financing. Collectively, these eight countries host 4.1 million refugees, or 60% of the total number of refugees living in IDA countries.
To be eligible, countries need to (1) host at least 25,000 refugees, or refugees must amount to at least 0.1 percent of its population; (2) have an adequate framework for the protection of refugees; and (3) have an action plan or strategy with concrete steps, including possible policy reforms for long-term solutions that benefit refugees and host communities.
Preparations have been undertaken in close coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ensure a coordinated humanitarian-development approach. In particular, the Bank is being guided by UNHCR on defining the adequacy of the protection framework in each country. It will also be reviewed when specific projects are developed and discussed for approval.
Going forward, the Bank will work with governments to prepare projects and deliver solutions that best meet their needs. Although the circumstances in each country are different, some common approaches are emerging. Overall, interventions will aim to make a shift from crisis response to managing risks; support host communities and lagging regions; move towards social and economic inclusion; and take regional and country-level approaches.
Creating jobs and working with the private sector will be a key focus. Gender is another important area, as women face increased risk of rape, violence, and forced conscription as refugees. Since about half of refugees are children, education is also a priority, not only to support each individual child’s development but to rebuild and stabilize their home countries in the future.
The current refugee crisis is the biggest and most complex faced by this generation. It will take strong partnerships – humanitarian, development, peacebuilding, civil society and private sector partners – to drive sustainable solutions for those most in need. With new financing under IDA18, the Bank will work with partners to support host countries and deliver results quickly.