Cheap loans proposed to ease aid gap in Syria refugee crisis


AMMAN, Jordan–A top World Bank official has proposed zero-interest loans to help economically fragile Jordan and Lebanon deal with the burden of hosting Syrian refugees.

International funding for easing the unprecedented crisis has fallen short. Last year, donors paid only a portion of billions in U.S. dollars sought for more than 4 million refugees and their regional hosts.

World Bank regional chief Ferid Belhaj discussed the loans Monday with top officials from affected countries, ahead of next week’s annual Syria pledging conference.

Belhaj told The Associated Press that such loans, in which donors cover interest, could help narrow funding gaps, but that he expects tough debate.

Jordan Planning Minister Imad Fakhoury says he welcomes cheap loans, but that Jordan “will not borrow … to fund priorities related to the Syrian refugees.”