Conflicts in Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen have erased “development gains for a whole generation,” including driving up already high levels of poverty and unemployment, the head of the International Monetary Fund said Friday.
The international community must be prepared to scale up long-term development aid in the region to rebuild infrastructure and institutions, IMF chief Christine Lagarde wrote in a blog accompanying a report by the fund on the economic cost of conflict in the Middle East.
More than $11 billion pledged by donor countries for Syria and the region through 2020, if indeed delivered, “would not be enough given the magnitude of the crisis,” she wrote. Aid should come in the form of grants and concessional loans to ease the financial burden on the countries receiving the support, she added.
Lagarde noted that more than 20 million people in the region are displaced and an additional 10 million are refugees, more than at any time since World War II. “The international community has a major responsibility in helping countries in the region overcome this situation,” she wrote. “We are ready to do our part.”
The IMF report and Lagarde’s comments were released ahead of a high-level U.N. summit next week on refugees and migrants.
The fund said that since the middle of the 20th century, the Middle East and North Africa have experienced more frequent and severe conflicts than any other parts of the world.