Lima, Peru

10 October 2015

Secretary-General’s remarks at international stakeholders’ roundtable meeting for the Middle East and North Africa region

I welcome the initiative of the World Bank Group in convening this meeting.

I commend President Kim for his commitment to promoting closer partnership between our two institutions in pursuit of peace and sustainable development.

I welcome, too, the engagement of the Islamic Development Bank.

The world today is witness to higher levels of conflict than a decade ago, and the highest level of forced displacement since the Second World War.

The drivers of violence and instability are more complex and more intractable than ever.

Nothing emphasizes this reality more than the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.

To address the scale and the nature of the conflicts, we need new approaches.

It is important that the World Bank, as a close partner to the UN, and other international financial institutions, mainstream and actively invest in conflict-affected states. 

The UN welcomes growing collaboration in developing shared analysis, joint strategies and programming and staff exchanges.

We believe that progress on efforts to sustain peace at the regional and country level must be based on an understanding of the fiscal and economic dimensions of violent conflict.

New modalities for longer term financing need urgently to be put in place to ensure that the countries of the region hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees have access to structural support from international financial institutions.

This needs to be under the most favourable terms, notwithstanding their Middle Income Country status.

The latest developments in the Syria and Iraq crises, which affect the region and beyond, require extraordinary measures.

UNHCR and UNDP have developed a Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan for Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, which host the majority of Syrian refugees.

The plan blends humanitarian and development programmes.

However, needs continue to exceed available funding.

This meeting offers a unique opportunity to give this plan the support it requires.

In Libya, a Government of National Accord will face immense challenges.

More than a year of armed conflict and political division has caused vast suffering and economic decline.

It is critical that the international community is ready to support new transitional institutions and security arrangements.

The United Nations is actively planning for the next phase.

We stand ready to work with partners to ensure coordinated support to a revived democratic transition.

In Yemen, I am deeply concerned about the increasing number of civilian casualties, most of which are caused by air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition.

The conflict is making a dire humanitarian situation worse.

I have repeatedly called on all parties to stop the fighting and engage in direct UN-brokered talks without preconditions and further delay.

Peace can only be achieved through political negotiations in which all Yemeni parties must participate.

I am also very alarmed by the rise of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians – especially in connection with the holy sites of Jerusalem.

Continued international support to the Palestinian Authority, also through the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, and ensured funding to the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, are fundamental to ameliorate the living conditions of Palestinians.

These efforts will contribute to but will not substitute the necessary political horizon for the Middle East Peace Process.

I have been urging the leaders of both sides to refrain from inflammatory language. 

I have also made it clear that the destruction of Palestinian houses and the construction of yet more Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land will do nothing except fan the flames and raise tensions still further.

Throughout the MENA region, we will continue to work for political solutions to address the root causes of forced displacement.

We look forward to working closely with partners in identifying and implementing creative measures to alleviate the despair and suffering faced by too many in the region. 

Thank you.