EconSource: EU, US, and Kuwait Pledge More Than $2 Billion in Humanitarian Aid for Syrians

The European Union, the United States, and Kuwait have pledged more than $2 billion of the $8.4 billion the UN hopes to raise to help tackle the dire humanitarian situation caused by the war in Syria. Their pledges ($1.2 billion, $507 million and $500 million, respectively) were made at the opening of the third international donors’ conference for Syria, hosted by Kuwait. Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, described the Syrian conflict as “the biggest humanitarian crisis in recent history… The Syrian people’s plight has spilled over to hosting countries, exhausting their resources, and it is our role to support the host countries.” Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the crisis was not going to end soon. “There will be at least five more years of intense humanitarian activity even if – in the best of cases – progress on a negotiated political settlement were immediate and substantive today.” [The Guardian, BBC, AFP, Reuters, 3/31/2015]

Iraq loses $40 billion from oil price drop
The Iraqi government will prioritize spending on security and public sector wages after the steep drop in oil prices slashed $40 billion from state revenues, an adviser to the country’s prime minister said in an interview. Iraq’s budget deficit stands at 12 percent of GDP and central bank reserves declined to $66 billion at the end of 2014 from $78 billion a year earlier. The country’s development plan has suffered a huge setback due to its reliance on oil revenues. [Zawya, 3/31/2015]

EBRD and Banque de Tunisie strengthen smaller enterprises in Tunisia
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a 30 million euro loan to Banque de Tunisie, the largest Tunisian bank by market capitalization, for lending to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Tunisia. The EBRD credit line will provide much needed long term financing to MSMEs, helping to strengthen and develop a vital sector for the country’s economy and generate job opportunities.  [The Financial, 3/30/2015]

Tobruk promises funds for south, Benghazi salary payments
The internationally recognized government in Tobruk says it will pay approximately $14.4 million to the Benghazi General Services Company. The eastern government has also approved $12 million in funding for the southern region of Libya. Half of the $14.4 million will be used to pay salaries, while the other half will go towards paying off debts incurred by the Benghazi Services Company. Given it has limited access to central bank accounts, it is unclear how the Tobruk government will finance the payments. [Libya Monitor (subscription), 3/31/2015]

Also of interest
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World Bank proposes better healthcare system in Egypt | Aswat Masriya
Saudi Arabia underperforms Gulf as banks slide on fee worries | Ahram Online
UAE economy to grow despite oil prices | Gulf News