Speeches & Transcripts

Remarks by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim at a Joint Press Conference with the UN Secretary General & the President of the Islamic Development Bank Group

March 25, 2016

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim Press Conference Beirut, Lebanon

As Prepared for Delivery

I want to thank the Lebanese people for such a warm welcome.

We are here on this joint trip, to show our unwavering support to the people and government of Lebanon. We are here to put the full weight of our institutions behind a call to action to the international community. Lebanon has accepted well over a million refugees – providing the world with a precious public good, and the entire global community owes you a debt of gratitude.

Earlier today we travelled to North Lebanon and the conditions there for host communities and Syrian refugees are dire showing no early signs of easing. So we are here to help.

We have made close to $1 billion dollars in commitments to Lebanon. We focused our efforts in a number of sectors from water to health and education, where needs are most acute. 

Earlier today we announced $100 million dollars in concessional financing for Lebanon to help support the government’s plan to improve the quality of education in schools, and to expand access to all Syrian children between ages of 3-to-18.  Our Board has made this exceptional decision to extend to Lebanon financing terms that had been reserved for low-income countries only.

I want to also add that – with the full support of our Board - we are now engaging with the Unions of Municipalities to help local government deliver services directly to the citizens, efficiently and in real time.

We are committed to doing more in Lebanon and across the region. Along with the Secretary-General and Dr. Ali, we have set up a MENA facility where we have asked for $1 billion dollars in donations. We will then multiply that billion three to four times in order to provide the kind of concessional financing that will allow Lebanon and Jordan to really move forward in not only responding to the refugee crisis, but to build the infrastructure for the future of both countries.

Finally, I want to mention “The Extreme Poverty Law” now being discussed in Parliament, which will establish a program to provide Conditional Cash Transfers to the poorest people in Lebanon. This would build on the National Poverty Targeting Program, which we have supported.  If the law passes – and we urge leaders to support this progressive law - it would mark a courageous and significant step for Lebanon in its fight against poverty and promoting of shared prosperity.

We want to and need to do more. We are encouraged by the conversations we have had. Let me reiterate, we will play our part and hold our part of the bargain. We are ready to move. Now we need the government to move so we can reach those who need our help during these times of instability and hardship. Thank you very much.