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World Bank president: Lebanon
received refugees generously

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim speaks on May 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN)

BEIRUT - President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim said the purpose of his two day visit to Lebanon was to thank the Lebanese for accepting refugees from the ongoing war in neighboring Syria, and to discuss future strategies to meet Lebanon’s economic needs.

 

“We are here today to confirm our support for this country amid the difficult circumstances it is going through,” Kim said after arriving at Beirut’s Rafiq al-Hariri Airport on Monday.

 

“[We are here] to support [Lebanon] and thank it  for its generosity in opening its borders and receiving the [Syrian] refugees.”

 

He added that his visit is also intended to address “ways of meet urgent needs,” especially “reforms in various sectors, stimulation of economic growth, and support of medium and long term strategies.”

 

Kim also mentioned that he would be meeting young people at the Ministry of Education to discuss challenges faced by Lebanon.

 

“I will present a vision of the future, [and the] challenges connected to the Arab spring - which in and of itself constitutes a propitious chance for a step forward - as well as the human resources that form the foundations of a promising future.”

 

The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon currently registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees currently stands at 1.1 million - around one quarter of Lebanon’s population - although the actual figure is reported to be much higher.

 

Leaders across the political spectrum in the small Mediterranean country have called for measures to control the number of new arrivals, maintaining that the country’s weak economy lacks the capacity to support them.

 

During his visit to the Saudi city of Jeddah on Sunday, Kim said that The World Bank estimates  the war in Syria has cost Lebanon $7.5 billion.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim speaks on May 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN)

[We are here] to support [Lebanon] and thank it for its generosity in opening its borders and receiving the [Syrian] refugees.