IMF says Mideast con­flicts wiped out gains of a gen­er­a­tion

Malta Independent - - BUSINESS -

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 longterm 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 mid-

dle of the 20th cen­tury, the Mid­dle East and North Africa have ex­pe­ri­enced more fre­quent and se­vere con­flicts than any other parts of the world.

Con­flict has pushed coun­tries like Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ye­men “fur­ther into fragility, eras­ing pre­vi­ous de­vel­op­ment gains for a whole gen­er­a­tion,” La­garde wrote.

For ex­am­ple, Syria’s eco­nomic out­put, or Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct, is es­ti­mated to be less than half of what it was in 2010, a year be­fore the out­break of con­flict there. In­fla­tion, mean­while, rose by al­most 300 per­cent­age points in May 2015. Ye­men lost be­tween 25 per­cent and 35 per­cent of its GDP in 2015, the re­port said.

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