Lebanon

Remarks by Axel van Trotsenburg, Managing Director, Operations at the International Conference on Support to Beirut and the Lebanese people

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President Macron

Deputy Secretary General Mohammed,

Excellencies:

On behalf of the World Bank Group, I would like to convey our sincere condolences and sympathies to the people of Lebanon following the tragic event of last week and to thank the Government of France and the United Nations for their leadership in bringing together the international community to discuss the urgent challenges facing Lebanon.

Ensuring an efficient and coordinated response in the aftermath of this catastrophic explosion is critical. The World Bank Group stands firmly committed to work with the international community and all stakeholders in Lebanon to support these efforts.

The challenges facing Lebanon are enormous. Tuesday’s massive explosion comes on top of the deep ongoing economic, financial and social crisis that was exacerbated by the COVD-19 pandemic. This is the reason the international community is gathered here today – not only to offer solidarity with the Lebanese people, but also to offer humanitarian support and a helping hand for the country’s needed efforts to overcome its multiple crises.

Even prior to the explosions Lebanon was experiencing severe economic crises alongside a rapidly worsening social situation. As a result, 45% of Lebanese citizens live in poverty. With so many left behind, it comes as no surprise that people in Lebanon are calling for profound reforms that will address the core problems of these crises and provide a real possibility for improving the daily lives of the average Lebanese citizen. We need to listen to these calls and respond. We trust the Lebanese policy makers will heed the calls and act quickly.

The World Bank Group began to undertake a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment last Thursday. The assessment could serve as a basis for an economic and social reconstruction plan that addresses short- and medium-term needs. In doing so, we are working closely with our counterparts, the IMF, the UN, the EU and other partners with a view to finalize the assessment by August 20, 2020.

Engaging all stakeholders in recovery and reconstruction is critical. The ultimate objective of this effort is to promote sustainable economic and social recovery with a rapid reduction of poverty levels. Guiding principles for conducting this engagement will be transparency, inclusion and good governance.

Lebanon is a founding member of the World Bank, with our partnership going back 75 years. As a long-term partner, the World Bank is committed to Lebanon in good and hard times. We’re ready to support the urgent demands of the crisis. In the short term, and if the Government is willing to move quickly, we can finalize preparation of an emergency social protection program of over $200 million that could benefit over half a million of poor people.

To conclude, we stand ready to work on a fast-track basis and engage on the reform agenda that will help ease the suffering of the people of Lebanon.

Thank You!

Last Updated: Aug 09, 2020