Mideast countries call for IMF help on refugee crisis

Syrian refugee woman covered with dust arrives at the Trabeel border. (File photo: Reuters)

Middle Eastern countries urged the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday to help them deal with the massive influx of refugees from conflicts in Syria and beyond, including with low-interest loans.

“A number of our countries are facing heightened demands on domestic resources from the influx of refugees and internally displaced populations,” said a statement from a dozen countries in the region at the IMF’s annual meeting in Lima, Peru.

“We call on the Fund to provide financing to the affected counties on concessional terms to mitigate these costs and to encourage more timely and adequate support from the international community.”

The comments came in a prepared statement to be delivered Friday by the United Arab Emirates’ representative at the IMF meeting on behalf of Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, the Maldives, Oman, Qatar, Syria and Yemen.

Although much recent attention has focused on Europe’s struggles to deal with the influx of uprooted Syrians, the war-torn country’s neighbors have taken in the bulk of the more than four million people who have fled in the past four years, straining their capacity to cope with the new arrivals.

Many Middle Eastern countries are also struggling to deal with internally displaced people uprooted by conflict, including Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

The statement calls for “greater flexibility” in loan conditions and for IMF program reviews to take into account the strains that conflicts have placed on countries in the region.

IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld said Tuesday the Fund recognized the “immense” pressure on Middle Eastern countries, which he said the IMF was trying to alleviate by easing up on their fiscal targets.

Several countries in the region received IMF loan assistance in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46
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