Amb. Wendy Chamberlin: Welcome back to the third panel of the Middle East Institute’s 71st Conference. The panel today - this afternoon - that we’re looking at is Relief Needs and Development Horizons. The two expert panels that I hope you were here to enjoy this morning devoted most of their attention to the armed conflicts in the region, the grievances and rivalries that were drivers to those armed conflicts, and national security interests of the stakeholders.
In this section, we want to do something different. We want to take stock of the tragic human impact of the four major conflicts that are going on in the region. But importantly, we want to discuss and call attention to the ways that people in the region can move forward constructively. We don’t want to dwell on all the horrible things. We want to see and examine and hash out what we can do about them, what is being done about them, who’s taking the leadership.
And there are challenges. First, the region faces the urgent crisis of disease and malnutrition, especially in Yemen and Syria. We’ve all read about it. Civil wars have destroyed homes, businesses, and infrastructure, but also institutions in the four conflict areas, including trust. We’ll talk about that. And the financial – and the third largest challenge we face in the recovery period is the financial requirements for reconstruction in the – at a time when many donors, particularly in the West, are facing donor fatigue, without any reduction at all in the needs for caring for refugees and the enormous recovery need, challenges that are coming forward.
So, the urgency in addressing these huge challenges raises a lot of critical questions, which this panel is very well designed to address. Who will lead the work? Are there legitimate local and national authorities who can mobilize and lead during a recovery period? What should be and what is the role of the international community? And are there new actors? We’d want to address what the role of Iran, China, and Russia might be. And what are the roles of other major donors? What will it take to reestablish good enough governance in the future?
So, to review all of these issues and challenges, we’ve got a wonderful panel of experts here with me on the podium. Simon Henshaw is the acting assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the Department of State. And he’ll help us sort though some of these challenges with refugees for sure. Ambassador Mike Klosson is vice president for policy and humanitarian response at the global NGO, a highly esteemed NGO, Save the Children. Michael deals with problems of delivering humanitarian aid, well, throughout the world. The other two experts will guide our thinking beyond the immediate humanitarian crisis. As we begin to plan for the future, and navigate towards that difficult period of transitioning into recovery. Clare Lockhart is co-founder and director of the Institute for State Effectiveness, and she’s co-author on a superb book on the same subject with Ashraf Ghani, who is now president of Afghanistan. And Hideki Matsunuga? Matsunago?
Hideki Matsunaga: Matsunaga.
Amb. Chamberlin: Matsunaga [laughter] – is advisor to the chief economist for the Middle East, MENA region in the World Bank, who are very active in thinking and planning and strategizing for the future in this region.
So, let’s start. And let’s start with you, Simon, on humanitarian problems. Let’s start on the here and now. And I’m sorry to say, Simon, that even though the U.S. and the coalition has succeeded in its number one priority in Iraq and Syria, driving out ISIS, the future refugees and the displaced in the region seems to be just as troubling as ever before. So, if I can ask you, to just describe what’s happening on the ground now. But importantly, and because we want to stay with this positive theme, if you can see any positive trends towards refugees in what donors are planning and strategizing to do? And what their future might be?
Simon Henshaw: That’s a broad question. But I’ll give it a try.
Amb. Chamberlin: You’re welcome.
Mr. Henshaw: Thank you. There are some positive changes on the ground, certainly that the near defeat of ISIS has opened up a lot of territory from fighting, which has decreased humanitarian problems, but we still have a long way to go. And I think especially in Syria, where the Assad regime remains in power, a lot of refugees are unwilling to return back home until they see some sort of political solution. So, that’s the difficult part there. Even as areas are liberated from ISIS or fighting ceases, we still have a state which is split into many different parts with different groups in control of different areas. And a lot of questions about where the future lies. So, it’s unlikely that refugees will voluntarily return home until there’s some sort of stability that they can return to. Inside Syria, there’s a large number of IDPs, many of them are in Assad-controlled areas. And it will be important to watch how they move within the next months, whether they start to move back to their homes.
I say this because it’s a good leading indicator for refugees. And today’s modern communication sends a lot of communication back and forth. It far outweighs what we say or international organizations say. So, if internally displaced persons inside Syria begin to move back to their homes, they’ll then text or write or email refugee family members in other countries. And that could be an indicator of a lead-in to an eventual return. But I think we have a period of time where we’re going to have to continue to support refugees in the countries around Syria.
Inside Iraq, there is some movement of IDPs back to their homes, which is good news. But the recent – “fighting” would be the wrong word I guess, and probably not politic - but the recent disagreements between the Kurds and the central government have led to a new wave of IDPs moving into Kurdistan. I think about 160,000. So, there are new concerns there, which will need to be addressed.
In the area – in the refugee-hosting countries, I think we’ve made a lot of progress over the last couple of years from originally when I first did this five years ago, when we were just sort of doing band-aid, get food, get shelter, get water, get sanitation. There’s been a lot of movement towards particularly providing education and providing jobs for refugees. So, there has been some movement there. Probably more successful on the education side, particularly in Lebanon and Jordan where the majority of refugees, younger children, now receive education. But also, some good moves in employment, and that’s very important because it helps families support themselves, lessens the social welfare costs for the state, and helps restore or retain dignity for families so that they can support themselves and get by.
I think I will just add that the current political issues in Lebanon are somewhat disturbing. Hariri, the prime minister, was probably the biggest supporter of refugees inside the government. And it’s very important to watch to see what happens there. With 25 percent of their population being Syrian refugees, the situation was already unstable. I think I’ll leave any comments on the World Bank to my distinguished colleague here.
Mr. Matsunaga: Okay.
Amb. Chamberlin: Yeah, let me just follow up on a couple of things that you said. The reluctance of Syrian refugees to go home until they see some stability, they must not have been very happy with the recent comment by President Assad, where he actually seemed to discourage refugees from going home. I know in August he had his big conference, where he declared the insurgency over and Syria was open for business. But he also has said that his vision for Syria was as a homogenous society, which meant he wanted to exclude those who had chosen to leave. How is the United States government reacting to that? Because, I mean, one of the principles of refugees is that the most favorable, durable solution is that refugees go home. And that’s what they want to do. They want to go home. But to have, in a situation where they’re still not welcome, what is our policy towards a leader who says that?
Mr. Henshaw: Yeah, well, I run the humanitarian side of the shop. So, I get to stay out of politics. But I’ll repeat what our political leaders say, which is the future of Syria requires a political solution among all parties. And Assad is not part of that future. That’s all I can really say, other than, I’ve concentrated on the humanitarian side. And you’re absolutely right: the first, durable solution is the return of refugees to their home. And in certain circumstances such as Lebanon, it really is the only practical solution.
Amb. Chamberlin: And then I’ll just, as you did the round robin throughout the region with the four conflicts, we didn’t talk about Libya.
Mr. Henshaw: Or Yemen.
Amb. Chamberlin: Or Yemen. So, let me ask you a question on Libya and Yemen [laughter]. On Libya, of course many of the refugees from countries throughout, well, throughout the world, but mostly throughout the Middle East, including Afghanistan and Pakistan and certainly Africa, have used Libya as a route to hop on boats. And now Europeans are turning those boats back. And isn’t this a violation of a refugee principle? And what is our position on that? Are we talking to our allies about that?
Mr. Henshaw: Yeah, we are talking to our allies. We certainly encourage them to use humanitarian processes. I don’t think the answer is allowing people to the sea in rickety boats, though, because the death rate is fairly high. And there is this delicate balance between accepting people who are refugees and dealing with a mixed migration, which also contains economic migrants. You also have the situation where the rescues themselves, as rescuers got closer to the Libyan shore, the Libyan smugglers used rickitier – is that a word? [laughter]
Amb. Chamberlin: It works. [laughter].
Mr. Henshaw: More rickety – [laughter] boats because they knew they needed to go less far. So, it required some sort of cooperation between Libyan authorities and Europeans to get that under control. And part of that is also establishing legal methods for migration. Couple other things about Libya that I’d just like to throw in. I think one of the hidden horrors here, maybe not for this audience, but for much of Americans and Europeans, is the deaths of Africans crossing the desert. We see photos and pictures and read reports of people dying in the Mediterranean. But there are reports to suggest an equal or greater number of people die coming across the desert. And that’s hidden from us. So, really need to push our effort back even further and work in the countries from which migrants are coming.
Amb. Chamberlin: And are we doing that? And how are we doing that? What sort of positive strategies do we have to address that problem?
Mr. Henshaw: You know, positive strategies that, again getting out of my bandwidth, I just get to deal with working with people who are in the situation of being a refugee in the first place. I think you’re talking about a much wider issue here, which is one of economic migration. And we are participating in the global migration dialogue. And the hope is that that can come up with some rules on how better to deal with migrants. And look for more legal pass for migrants to move. And also better controls of movement from countries that produce the migrants.
Amb. Chamberlin: Good. Well, thank you. That’s very helpful, Simon. Mike, let’s stay on humanitarian issues. The conflicts in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq have been brutal on the lives of civilians, and particularly children. And we all know the statistics. They’re pretty startling. But it’s also had an enormous – one of the issues that I find has been overlooked, by everybody but Save the Children [laughter], is the psychological aspects. The mental health needs, for particularly children who have been uprooted from their homes, displaced, facing disease, having watched many of their relatives get killed. The mental health issues in the camps and among refugee populations everywhere is often neglected.
So, Save The Children is doing some really good work in this area. Can you talk a little bit about your mental health programs? And just to say, that because the Middle East Institute has recognized the importance of art in politics, the connection in the Middle East in establishing arts and culture programs, you also have established an arts program as part of your mental health program in dealing with political violence and civil wars. So, if you could talk a little about that, I’d appreciate it.
Michael Klosson: Sure. Thanks Wendy. And let me actually start in a slightly larger frame. I mean, the way you structure this panel, it’s Relief Needs and Development Horizons. But you’ve actually put a humanitarian person right next to a development person, instead of putting the humanitarians at one end and development people [laughter] at the other. And I think that’s exactly right. Because we’re sort of – the topic separates the here and the now from the down the road. And there maybe was a time when that made sense. But nowadays when you look at a lot of the humanitarian crises, you don’t have a crisis and, after a reasonable period of time, it’s over and you’re into recovery. It doesn’t work like that. Most of the time, I’d say 85 percent of the humanitarian work that we’re certainly involved in, I think governments are involved in, they’re protracted, and particularly in refugee situations. If you’ve been a refugee for five years, the odds are you’re going to be a refugee for about 20. So, the world that we’re dealing with is a protracted world. And so, it’s not enough any more to just put a roof over somebody’s head, to put food on their table, and give them access to health care. Things like mental health and education can’t wait because in effect you’re sort of saying, well this has got to wait until their childhood is gone.
So, one of the reasons, I mean, one of the things that’s really driven us is that sort of realization that when you’re in these protracted situations, people don’t go home right away. And so, you do have to start worrying about children growing up without an education. And then you worry about lost generations and that type of thing. And in the case of mental health, this is clearly a need. Nobody’s really talking about it. Much of the time, people say, “Well, we’ll take care of that later. That’s sort of a nice-to-have, not an essential.” And if you’re thinking about having a generation who’s going to come, eventually, hopefully, come back and rebuild their country, you can’t put this stuff off.
So, what Save The Children has been doing, particularly in the Middle East, but it’s becoming more mainstream across our programs, is to really flag the importance of really paying attention to the impact of conflict on children. And we’ve brought out, some of you may have seen this report that we did at the sixth anniversary of the Syria conflict called Invisible Wounds, which dealt with sort of the mental health of Syrian children. And we interviewed roughly 500 Syrian children, adults and adolescents. And out of that, there’s some really, it’s sort of hair-curling kinds of stories. Because children, this is a little child from Eastern Ghouta in Syria. “I feel depressed, as if I’m in another world. When I wake up, I realize I’m still here. And then I cannot move my body.” There’s all this type of stuff in this report and it just drives home that these mental health issues have to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Your dealing with them can’t wait. And there’s the statistics – I won’t go through a lot of the other findings in here – but it really does flag the importance of doing that. And so, we’ve been developing a number of different ways, at a fairly rudimentary level, of tackling some of these mental health issues. And we have, as Wendy was suggesting, we have something called the HEART program, Healing Through Education and Arts. And it’s a way for children to actually kind of draw pictures and articulate some of the things that are going on inside them, and just kind of get it out there.
So, we have different levels of programming that can help children deal with these things. Some of it’s really basic like the HEART program. Others get more – where you actually need expertise. And so, what we’re saying is that this needs to be increasingly part of mainstream humanitarian programming. And it’s something – we have a relationship with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and we had a conference call with them recently. And this is very much something they’re focused on as well. We have to make much more visible the mental health issues that, children in particular, but also parents are facing. And start to tackle them as something that has to be tackled now. Because if you wait, you have something called Toxic Stress. And this is – I mean, it changes the way your brain is wired. It can cause increased vulnerability to heart disease, diabetes, all kinds of really horrible stuff. And you don’t want a generation of kids growing up with these kinds of issues.
So, what we’re saying is we can do some rudimentary stuff. We need to start to build national capacity in countries where this is not, hasn’t been too much of a tradition. I think in Syria, prior to the conflict, I think they had two public psychiatric hospitals. So, it’s not something that was mainstream in that country. But it’s something that, over time, people need to pay a lot more attention to. And that’s part of what we’ve done. We’ve done this report on Syria. We’ve done one called Unbearable Burden on Iraq. We’re cranking out some more. So, we’re going to be sort of advocating in favor of greater attention to this, and also building it in to all of our programming, whether it’s in Yemen, or whether it’s in Iraq, or whether it’s in Syria or other conflict situations.
And what I would say is that we have these things called child-friendly spaces, which is where a lot of this work gets done. And what I would say is that when I’ve gone and seen some of our child-friendly space work, either in camps in Jordan, or in host communities, or in Lebanon, it’s really positive. You actually see the resilience in the children. And when you get a chance to talk with some of the parents and ask, “How has this helped or not?” And what you typically hear is that kids are sleeping better, there’s less bedwetting, that kind of thing going on. So, it’s a proven method to do a certain level of help. And then beyond that, people need to be referred and then have more serious kinds of treatment.
Amb. Chamberlin: Yes, bravo. I hadn’t planned on sharing this story, but I think it’s relevant. When I was – before I came to the Middle East Institute, I was with the UN Refugee Agency in Geneva. We were visiting the Somalia refugee camp in Dadaab and Kenya and helped establish a sports program for girls. And recall - you reading the quote from that little girl reminded me - that we visited this little girl who’s involved in the volleyball program. And she said, “Before the sports program, I used to sit in my tent and they gave me embroidery to do. But sitting in the dark tent, all I could think about was the things that I had seen. But when I’m out in the sun playing volleyball, I don’t think about those horrors.” And that one little comment has really stayed with me. It’s so important to have positive programs for children and well, not just children, for everybody.
Amb. Klosson: Right.
Amb. Chamberlin: So, bravo for what you’re doing. Hideki –
Mr. Matsunaga: Yes.
Amb. Chamberlin: The West Bank – the World Bank. You know you all have, are, playing a much more active role throughout the Middle East now. And there’s certainly a lot to do. With the nature of the conflict and the bombing, with Aleppo homes, Raqqa, Mosul, in rubble, the needs for reconstruction are huge. At a time when the willingness to spend a lot of money from previous donor countries is certainly not there as much as it had been in the past, World Bank’s stepping up. And if you could just describe to me what the thinking of the World Bank throughout the region is on reconstruction needs? And rebuilding infrastructures?
Mr. Matsunaga: Sure. Okay. Maybe before I touch upon, about the reconstruction/recovery, I would like to just follow up the previous discussion of Simon and Michael. As Michael, I mean correct me, said, “There is no really clear line between humanitarian development any longer. The situation is so protracted.” And because of this situation, World Bank decided to engage more actively even in a refugee crisis. And we have set up a new financial mechanism called Global Concessional Financing for Safety. With that fund, we are now trying to support those refugees who are right now living in a neighboring country, such as Lebanon and Jordan. The point is, Wendy, you mentioned about donor fatigue, there are certain limitations on their sort of donor grant contribution. So, what we have come out is mixed grant with loans. And provided support to those in Lebanon or Jordan who are bearing so much cost of hosting those refugees. And that’s really a new mechanism we now are working on.
And this kind of new idea came up based on our new strategy, which we formulated also in 2015. And in this strategy, we try to engage in contributing to the peace and stability in the region directly through our engagement. Previously, World Bank considered conflict and violence as a rather given factor. And our recovery and reconstruction engagement starts usually after some kind of peace agreement is made. But we flipped the picture, and we try to engage to contribute to achieve peace and stability.
Of course, it’s not that easy. And how are we going to do it? I think, maybe two-fold. One is try to address the root cause of conflict and violence. The other thing is try to respond to the urgent consequences. One is a refugee crisis. And as well as recovery and reconstruction from the wars. So, we try to do that. And setting up under this strategy, we set up four pillars. I mean, represented by four R’s. First “R” is renewing social construct. Old social construct of the region, which can be characterized by: their state is a provider of the job and some services, such as health and education, either free or very cheap, but in very poor quality. And also, the state provides subsidized food and also fuel. But as we have seen, what we have seen in the Arab Spring and aftermath, it didn’t work. Old social construct is broken. So, we are now trying to work to renew social construct.
Second part is regional cooperation, second “R” is. Surprisingly, despite the similarity of language and history and culture in the region, when we look at the statistics, economic statistics, regional economic cooperation is very low among all other regions, Europe, Asia, Latin America. Among the Middle East, it’s the lowest. So, we would like to promote more regional economic cooperation. So, that’s the second “R”.
Third “R” is resilience to refugee and economic migration. So, again, because of protracted nature I introduce about global concessional finance facility, we try to engage more actively on this refugee crisis. Of course, humanitarian, it is very important. But it’s not any longer. Only humanitarian areas business. I think somebody like the World Bank, us, really needs to engage very actively. And fourth “R,” I’m sorry I have become too long.
Amb. Chamberlin: No, no, no, no.
Mr. Matsunaga: Yeah, reconstruction and recovery. This is your question. And maybe big difference from our previous engagement and current engagement is usually World Bank, compared with other humanitarian agencies, is a bit conservative in times of engagement while conflict is going on. But we try to engage if it’s possible. I mean, some engagement while conflict is going on. But of course, we have still some institutional culture. But we are trying to do our best. And one example is like our current engagement with Yemen. Of course, World Bank is only part of the internationally recognized actors. So, what we can do is quite limited. But through reinforcing partnership with UN agencies, we are currently, actively engaging Yemen. I mean, some humanitarian support as well. Thank you.
Amb. Chamberlin: Huh. Wow. Excellent. Thank you very much. You raise some really interesting questions I want to come back to. But turning to Clare, I think one of the issues that Hideki raised is that recovery and reconstruction is more than just money. It’s more than just finances for rebuilding buildings. It requires much more than just material resources. Communities also need to reestablish the rules and the norms where people can come together and trust their government. Can you talk to us a little bit about strategies for building and rebuilding, but probably building, in some cases, that trust for people who had been so, maybe, persecuted by the very governments they’re coming back to recover.
Clare Lockhart: Certainly. And very much agreeing with all the speakers that we’re now not in a world where there’s going to be any kind of sequence between humanitarian closure and then a recovery and then a reconstruction. There’s a simultaneity to all this. And also, very much putting this, really the citizen, at the center of our thinking, as academics and analysts and policy makers, is so central in the psychosocial dimensions. So, thank you, all of you, for putting that so squarely on the table.
I think one thing as one approaches the question, and recognizing that sadly we may be years away from this at the moment, but it’s never too early to start thinking and preparing and analyzing different futures. I think the first is to really understand the historical and the institutional basis. Because one of the lessons we’ve seen from countries around the world is when the international community, in their rush to do good, then imports the technical expertise, the institutions, the organizations, the firms. And of course, in many of these countries and especially in the Middle East, there’s just tremendous, tremendous capacity already there. And that then sets the stage for citizens to be much more actively engaged as stakeholders in their own recovery. So, there’s going to be incredible capacity within the construction firms, within the institutions, the education sector, the health sector, and within community groups, citizen groups, civil society groups.
So, how does one understand how much of that can be, say, recognizing absolutely, Hideki, that it’s not a question of just restoring that old social contract. But citizen expectations have changed quite dramatically, especially with the demographic shift. I think the other one is to think, and while it seems strange to think about a 20 or a 30 or a 50-year perspective when there’s such a sense of a real crisis going on, but all the lessons have been that where recovery and reconstruction’s been handled successfully, there were those who did begin to set the horizons. To have that medium to long-term thinking.
I think the other part is that there’s a lot of interest especially at the UN in federalism and decentralization, which is absolutely right. The principle of subsidiarity that citizens must make decisions and power must be decentralized as much as possible. And as a principle that’s fine, but I think what a lot of countries and places are struggling with in practice is: what does that actually mean in practice? And I think, rather than just thinking simply about federalism for so many places, to think really to break that down, to really: which function is realistically going to perform at which level? You’re not going to have a hundred printing presses running in every town. Some functions are going to still have to be at a fairly centralized level.
But other decisions, like repair of irrigation canals, can be very much decentralized. So, how do you really understand in a particular context what that architecture is? And especially with the emergence of the city, as such an important unit of governance in today’s world. And so, as Jonathan Winer was saying earlier, in Libya of course it’s the municipality that’s really critical. That’s the unit of governance. So, really understanding this unit. And then I think this sets the stage for the more you can then appropriately decentralize decision-making and recovery into the hands of the stakeholders within the society, the more that they can take ownership of the process.
Amb. Chamberlin: Well, that’s very good. I’m wondering how it actually works? Because in conflict situations, buildings get bombed and they’re reduced to rubble. But what also is broken are those supply chains from city to city, that are so important for small businesses, communications lines, the personal relations that are broken. How do you repair that? Education systems are broken. There’s a lot of systems, human systems that are also broken after a conflict. So, let me just challenge our thinking. Let us say we go into Yemen. The conflict stops. We go into Yemen. The Institute for State Effectiveness is asked to advise the new - whoever’s there as leaders. How would you approach your advice to them?
Ms. Lockhart: So, in maybe three or four blocks, I think one is to think very, very deliberately about the rules of the game around the reconstructions. Money usually starts to flow in a recovery or reconstruction process, but money can be very corrosive, as well as an essential fuel. So, putting it, again the rule sets and the accountability, the familiar refrain in so many settings is after these vast donor conferences, billions of dollars pledged, three or four weeks later, people say, “Where did the money go?” And that’s when you lose the trust. So, putting in place, so the first is to put in place the accountability measures.
The second is, where possible, to decentralize. And so, some examples, actually Yemen has a history of this decentralization with a social fund of previous programs in Yemen where decisions are taken by the communities. A program many of you are familiar with, the Kecamatan Development Project was put in place in Indonesia across 80,000 villages after the Asian financial crisis in ’97. So, decisions and block grants, decentralized to the villages. And then they choose their own priorities. The same in Afghanistan where the national solidarity programs have used, and with the Syrian councils at the moment, it’s a very similar methodology. So, using this very radical decentralization, I think, should be considered.
And then perhaps a third major point is on this question of the lost generation. And that the people involved and what we’re seeing in many societies, those who have succeeded, and those that have failed. One of the critical, critical differences is succession in leadership, and not just the person at the top. But how does a generation that’s maybe lost to years or decades of war, but how amongst them does a new cadre of leaders emerge? And what is the kind of support for education through training, through leadership development, that could be put in place so this new generation can come of age and increasingly take over responsibility?
Amb. Chamberlin: Yeah, that’s very good. And tricky. Michael, returning to some humanitarian issues. Yemen, of course, is suffering from a health crisis with the cholera, with the children, what 60 percent of children in Yemen are under-fed, many suffering from stunting. When you talked earlier about a lost generation, through mental health, but there’s also just physical health issues. What’s the humanitarian community doing to address some of those issues in the middle of a conflict situation?
Amb. Klosson: Right. And it’s a very tough situation as you’ve just laid out. I mean the first thing is that it’s tough already, and then to have an obstacle like closing the ports and closing the roads, and as the Saudi-led coalition has done, makes it almost impossible. And I think what we’re seeing right now, given the nutritional state, or malnutritional state of a lot of children in Yemen, you’re looking probably, even when we’re doing humanitarian work, you looking at maybe 50,000 kids dying this year. There’s 130 a day. With this closure of the ports, with this blockade in place, if that persists, then a lot of the kind of support that we and others in the UN are providing will not be able to reach those in desperate need. And you’re looking at about a 30 percent mortality rate of people who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. So, the numbers are going to skyrocket. And so, that blockade needs to stop for humanitarian stuff.
So, there is – Yemen was one of the four countries around the world that was facing famine-like conditions. And I think the worst of the famine has been in, this was Somalia and northern Nigeria and Yemen. And the worst of the famine-like conditions in South Sudan I think has been staved off. So, it’s not quite as bad as it was, say, six or nine months ago. But three quarters of the population in Yemen relies on humanitarian assistance. And so, it’s a very dire situation. So, what a lot of us are doing are things like health clinics on the ground, and mobile health clinics, where you’re providing treatment for a severe acute malnutrition. Just sort of really basic healthcare things like that.
The cholera there is probably the – I’m told, I have not been to Yemen, I can’t go to Yemen. I’m told that, I think, the cholera outbreak is kind of one of the worst in history. I mean, it was climbing up towards a million cases and I think it’s, what I’ve heard recently is it’s started to stabilize a little bit. But you’re talking 800,000, 900,000 cases of cholera. So, this is a really, really difficult situation. And what needs to happen is we need to, full force, get as much humanitarian assistance in there as we can. And we need to have that blockade lifted. And then we need to be able to have the humanitarian access that’s so critical so people who are suffering from malnutrition, children in particular, can get access to what they need.
Amb. Chamberlin: Yeah.
Mr. Henshaw: Could I just add, very quickly--
Amb. Chamberlin: Please.
Mr. Henshaw: That access is such a huge issue for us today. It’s actually decreasing around the world in humanitarian cases. And it’s something that’s harming a lot of populations. Yemen is a great example. Three quarters of the population, as Mike said, depend on humanitarian supplies. Well, with the major port and airport closed, they’re not getting in. And those people are now at risk. In Syria, the Assad regime will not allow many UN convoys over conflict lines, so we have pockets of populations there that don’t get enough humanitarian aid. There needs to be a greater concentration around the world on pushing for free access for humanitarians. We face the same problem, it’s not in your region, but in Rakhine, northern Rakhine state right now in Burma.
Amb. Chamberlin: Yeah. Which I know, Simon, I know you’ve just returned from Burma. And it’s worth noting that while we’re focused on the refugee crisis, displaced crisis in the Middle East, there are 22 million refuges throughout the world and other crises, as well, that I know we must deal with. But this whole issue of providing, and a couple of you have touched on it, and maybe we’ve touched on it enough, but I wonder if there’s not something more that can be said about delivering both humanitarian assistance in the middle of a conflict zone. But also, the need to start the recovery, to start building those trusts, building those institutions, finding the leaders in the local communities who are going to be part of the recovery and the stitching together again of society under the new norms and the rules, determining what the rules are for the delivery of aid. That has to start even while the conflict is going on. And I wonder, just to open it up, the conversations just a little bit, is there anything more you’d like to say about that? Maybe some examples of where it’s worked well? Where we’ve managed to not just stop in our tracks when we find that the port is closed or it’s too dangerous to get in, how have we managed to work those workarounds into doing the work that needs to be done in the middle of a conflict? Anybody? Mike?
Amb. Klosson: Sure, I’ll just take a short stab. So, it’s leas about sort of building bridges across groups, and more about, picking up on Clare’s point, I mean where’s the future leadership going to come from? So, there’s an effort, there’s an initiative in the Middle East region that Save the Children, World Vision, Mercy Corps, UNICEF and a number of other partners have launched, maybe three or four years ago, called the No Lost Generation Initiative. And the two obvious components, one is education, the other is protection, which we can talk about if we want.
But the third one, which goes to this issue, is really about youth participation. And so, what we try to do in a lot of our programs is really involve the people that you’re working with, that you’re trying to help, involve them in the decision-making, involve them in the design of programs. And particularly, younger people, in order to start building some leadership skills. And we do that – we can do that consistently a lot better. But it’s very much a part of the way we try to work on these programs. So, the idea here is, in effect, creating some of the skills that future leaders are gonna need to help put things back together again. So, it spans the gamut, but you can have things like child clubs, you can have youth that then get involved in designing programs. A lot of times, when the whole world shows up in New York around the UN General Assembly period, we have youth delegates. And they get accustomed to working in the corridors of the UN and meeting with officials. So, we do a lot of things like that. And the goal is really to help enable future leaders to hone their skills so they can then play that role in their society.
Amb. Chamberlin: Boy, that’s certainly true in a region where 60 percent of the population is under 35. And where governments and government institutions and most institutions and every institution is run by old guys, old guys [laughter], so please stay around for the next panel about …
Mr. Henshaw: Nothing wrong with old guys –
Amb. Chamberlin: … what women are doing in the region to challenge the norms – that comment is very good. Clare, you wanted to say something?
Ms. Lockhart: Yes, a couple of things. So, one is just going looking into this question, this notion of leadership at really multiple levels. And it’s this leadership at the community level and the municipal level that is so, so important. And just to give you some more examples from both of these programs in Indonesia and Afghanistan. That the villagers elect, they choose to elect, councils. And over time, these council leaders serve at the village level, and then the ones that emerge then go on to serve at the district level. I mean, they emerge, they serve at, and I mean jakoey [as heard] in Indonesia is actually a product of having served on a village council. And so, over the years, and this takes place again with the importance of these timelines of twenty, thirty years, this helps to generate new leadership.
I’d say, adding to that, is just the real importance of the economy and when you mentioned that right now the supply chains are broken and so on. When I interviewed some special representatives of the Secretary General who were responsible for facilitating or overseeing peace processes a few years ago, I asked them what their biggest regret was. And nearly all of them said that their biggest regret was not paying sufficient attention to the economy. They said the economy was something they thought could wait until security and the political process was established. And then they said, they actually realized that the economy is happening all around you all the time. And it’s either going to be a legitimate economy, or it’s going to be a criminal, illegitimate and informal economy. And that’s going to just poison the politics again.
And the second reason they said, of course it’s tremendously important, is jobs for young men and young women. But how are these jobs going to be provided? And I think if we take that sort of citizen perspective again, for these highly educated populations, what’s their stake in the future? And so, to do this, which I think the World Bank is greatly doing now, this sort of long-term thinking about what are the future economies going to look like? Where are the jobs going to be? A lot of them are going to be in the public sector in teaching and in healthcare. But what are the economies of the future? And to align those education systems. And start, as I think you were saying, training now cadres of people in the skillsets that the future country is going to need and to use this time for this.
Amb. Chamberlin: I think the United States could take some wisdom from– take some notes from that comment. Hideki –
Mr. Matsunaga: Yes.
Amb. Chamberlin: That opens up very nicely to you. What is the World Bank doing?
Mr. Matsunaga: Right. Just going back to your question about their engagement in or during conflict. How are we going to do it? And I would say, Iraq after 2003, U.S.-led invasion, was probably the first case of the large-scale in-conflict engagement of the international community, I think. Because like in the peak of the worst security situation period, probably 2006-2007, casualties of civilians per day was hundreds. More than 3,000 people were killed. And in that situation, how can we engage? It’s extremely difficult, I think, war. And myself, started to engage in Iraq in 2003, right after the invasion and ended up doing it for eight years. So, it was really a very, very difficult process. And because of the security situation, we really need to compromise so many things, agency effectiveness as well. But still, there are people who are really desperately in need of some kind of support. For that sake, we really have to do it. But still, we are in a process of learning. What were really the lessons from such a difficult, in-conflict engagement?
And if I would say, summarize, the failure in a few words, maybe the biggest failure of the Iraq reconstruction, after spending U.S. $220 billion, is probably that we failed from – since I work for World Bank, biggest mistake on the economic side is failure to diversify the economy. Still, it continues to rely heavily on oil. And another issue is we failed to establish the inclusive governance of the institutions. So, that’s really another issue we failed. And there are so many lessons we can learn. But those are points, and it’s still, we are in the middle of learning process.
And when I think about somewhere like Syria, it is going to be even more difficult. Because first of all, we would have a very challenging situation to identify what is really the need of the people? We can identify humanitarian needs, but what is the middle to long-term needs? And also, who is going to be our partner to work with? It’s really a challenging situation. I don’t have a clear answer yet, but that’s - we are still trying to figure out.
Amb. Chamberlin: Well in Syria, I mean, if you just challenge the panel and the audience, and Syria looks like your partners might be Iran, Russia, and China. Because from my reading, those are the three donor countries that are stepping up and are rushing to Damascus, looking for the big reconstruction contracts. And when they get those financial reconstruction contracts, you can bet that their values will play into the institution-building that will be going all on as part of the recovery in Syria. Any comments about that? What are you seeing from the World Bank and from the United States and from the NGO perspective?
Mr. Matsunaga: Okay, yeah, Syria is quite – as I said, very challenging situation. And since usually we are not, World Bank is not entering to political sphere, and I don’t have clear answer from political perspective. But instead of that direct answer, let me just introduce our recent, if I may, studies on Syria. Because we are still trying to figure out what would be the effective way to engage in Syria in the future? But for that sake, we need to, first of all, understand the situation. But again, our analysis is from economic perspective, not political perspective. But that said, the issue is, I mean, we try to assess social and economic consequences of the Syrian conflict from three perspectives. One is a humanitarian effect. Second is physical damage. And third is economic consequences.
But since I start elaborating it’s going to be long. So, I will just summarize economic aspect. You know just if we calculate, estimate security damage, economic damage in Syrian war is already about US $220 billion. And if these, I mean, war goes on three more years, already $220 billion it’s four times the Syrian GDP. So, to reconstruct Syria is going to be, I mean, a huge job, but if it continues three years, another five years, the damage is going to be ten times more. So, again, coming back to Wendy’s first statement of donor fatigue, there is not going to be any donor, whether even Russia or China, whoever. It’s just too much. And what makes the matter worse, this is damage is only the tip of the iceberg. Destruction, more serious destruction, is as we talk about mental damage and so on, destruction of social capital, trust, network, community, and so on, and destruction of institutions, as well as the destruction of business network. Even before the 2011, it was pretty much elite capture, but those, all, intangible things were totally destroyed. So, not only the $200 billion USD as Wendy said, money is only part of the ballgame. Money alone will not solve the problem. We really have to look at those intangible factors, very seriously, and how as an international community as a whole to tackle it. That’s really a challenge for us.
Amb. Chamberlin: Totally agree. Totally agree with everything you’ve said, Hideki. But I don’t think you can look at it outside of the political sphere. Now, let me give you an example. In Iraq, in six months’ time, there’s going to be a national election in Iraq. Yet we’ve just come from the position of having pretty much destroyed Mosul and other cities in the efforts to evict ISIS. Wonderful thing, to evict ISIS. But there are many, many, many hundreds and thousands of civilians who have also fled their homes, can’t go back, are displaced, are refugees, and the problem isn’t just refugees and IDPs. It’s what do you do about the children who are born under ISIS rule in Mosul. Who are given birth certificates that are not recognized by the Baghdad government? What do you do with the couples who are married under ISIS rules whose marriage licenses aren’t recognized because it was an ISIS document? There are just a multitude of political problems that are going to be very much part and parcel to the recovery.
And that will all feed into this election that’s coming up in six months. Because you’ve got a – if you don’t deliver assistance, don’t solve these questions, not just financial, but the federalism questions, the involvement of local people in their governments, if you don’t bring them in, if they continue to be excluded, then they will continue to be marginalized. And let’s face it, it is along ethnic and sectarian grounds. And you’re caught in this horrible loop, where they will be vulnerable to exploitation. But the next group that comes along after Al Qaeda and ISIS, and there will be one, unless the international community helps somebody, I guess Baghdad, but responsible leaders in addressing the needs of these marginalized people and it has to be soon.
And I’m just wondering who’s thinking about that? Who’s taking the leadership? Is it the U.S. government? Is it the international organizations? Is it NGOs? Is it really responsible think tanks? Who’s talking the leadership in this really emergent and urgent problem? And I don’t know the answer to it.
Mr. Henshaw: Well, I don’t think there’s one, I’m sorry –
Amb. Chamberlin: Go ahead.
Mr. Henshaw: I don’t think there’s one answer. It’s a multitude of problems. War is horrible. It causes vast destruction. Everything from physical to non-tangible items, as you were just saying, so you have to break it down, the issues, country by country and region by region and work on them. And Syria, I don’t think there can be any solution, any reconstruction, until there’s political reconciliation. Because without political reconciliation, you can’t build the trust and the relationships you need to rebuild the country. I also don’t think that Iran and Russia can provide enough of the resources to rebuild the country, so that the West will inevitably have to have a role there. But it’s unlikely to have one, again, without political reconstruction.
And Yemen, it’s more of a Saudi and a UAE issue, where the United States and others play a role, but we need to pressure the UAE and the Saudis to look for a political solution. The one good thing about Yemen is that the situation there was relatively bad beforehand, so it doesn’t take a lot of work to get back to where they were before. It’s kind of a sad way of putting things, but it’s true. Compare that with Syria, which was incredibly well developed. That’s a really long row to hoe, to get it back to anywhere near where it was. And then Iraq is a separate issue where I think the United States obviously still plays a very large role. And then which we need to get the various parties to come to political reconciliation so that they can move ahead, get populations back to where they work, and begin reconstruction. And they certainly have a solid financial base with oil money, but they can’t move forward until they have some political reconciliation and a political way forward.
Amb. Chamberlin: Hideki, last comments before we open it up for the questions from the audience?
Mr. Matsunaga: No, I think Wendy, you’re totally right. All issue is not only an economic issue, it’s all political economy in the region. So, even if the World Bank, we are not specialized in the political arena, without being those issue you just raised, those generation, new generation. Let’s say Iraq, not only new generation, Iraq has really a cycle of all the histories, Iran-Iraq war, Gulf War, and economic sanctions and the invasion of 2003, and this fighting with ISIS. And each segment of those histories, there are several generations who really suffered. And what’s happening right now in Iraq is because when I first went in 2003, there are lots of people who are actually Iraqi, who are aged 50’s, 60’s. They grew up in the golden age of education during ‘60s and ‘70s and they’re very capable. I mean international standards. But most of them retired. And next generation grew up in the peak of educational work during economic sanctions. Then they’re capacity, of course, it depends on the person, and experience is less. And you just mention, those people who were born in the middle of ISIS rule and so on. I really feel sorry for them. But those are a part of Iraq, and part of the problem and we really need to figure out how to solve it. Human capital is really the key.
Amb. Chamberlin: Human capital. Human capital. Michael?
Amb. Klosson: Yeah, so I think from a perspective of development humanitarian NGO like Save the Children, what I would say is that we have a role to play in what you’ve described, but we don’t think of it as sort of a political role. What I would say, is just as we were talking about development and humanitarian sort of being connected in a different way nowadays, I think you can, maybe twenty years ago, a lot of what we’re trying to do is sort of reduce the absolute level of poverty. And I think over the last decade or so, it’s become clear that absolute poverty is going down. But it’s these inequities that are really coming much more into view.
And when world leaders adopted this next set of development goals in 2015, they talked about these really bold goals, but also talked about leaving nobody behind. So, the way Save the Children, for example, thinks about its work, we’ve identified three big breakthroughs that we want to drive toward for 2030, but really focus on those that are furthest behind from achieving these breakthroughs, which is ending preventable child deaths, every child learning through a quality education, and then sort of violence against kids is no longer tolerated. Those are our three big, North Stars. I know you can only have one, but we’ve got three. And so, we’re thinking about if we want to get there, you’ve got to really go after the ones that are hardest to reach and are furthest behind.
And so, that really does force you into thinking about which groups within society are being marginalized. Because it’s not by accident that this happens. You have, in some societies it’s girls that are getting left behind. In others, it’s ethnic minorities. And we’ve done a lot of work on this and we came out with an index on June 1, which looked at what’s ending childhood prematurely? If a child dies of pneumonia, that’s kind of end of childhood. But it’s other things like being forced out of your home, getting married as a child, dropping out of school. It’s these kinds of things.
And when you look at these childhood-enders, and we rank countries by that, you can also look at how does that play in a country across different groups? And what you find are the marginalized and excluded groups are the ones that are really – have the worst performance on these kind of indices. And so, those are the ones who are really focused on it. I think by doing that kind of work, it’s not only programmatic work. It’s also calling, in country, most of our staff in country are nationals. I mean 98 percent, most of the time. Something like that. So, they’re very active in calling attention to these kinds of issues. And I think that’s what you need. You need organizations like us to be calling attention to these disparities so that they’re called out and people start coming to grips with them. And that’s the role that we can play in that kind of process.
Amb. Chamberlin: Excellent. Thank you. Clare?
Ms. Lockhart: And just to underscore the absolute importance in addressing the very specific concerns and issues of the marginalized and the particularly vulnerable, and I think while a lot of the Middle East region is very very wealthy, there are also pockets of extreme poverty. So, also in terms of when we look at marginalization, it’s the question of poverty in the much poorer regions. And there’s so much rich experience globally in different forms of social policy and the innovations that are going on that I think could have real application.
I think at the same time, as paying particular attention to the marginalized, also because in many post-conflict settings or ongoing-conflict settings, trust is so low, then how do you do that without – any one group you focus on, the other groups are going to feel excluded because you’re focused on them? So, how do you balance the attention on the vulnerable groups and the marginalized with a sense of fairness as a theme is just so important. People want to be treated fairly, and this is part of dignity. So, how do you balance that with a balanced approach, where possible, it’s country-wide, or region-wide or city-wide that there are criteria to the benefits of the services that people are going to receive.
Amb. Chamberlin: Fairness and dignity. I like that. Thank you, I think this is the time that we were supposed to open it up for your questions. You’ve been very patient. Please line up behind the microphones. That’s the drill. And we’ll take question, question, question. We’ll take four questions at a time. Two from here, and two from there. And open it up to the panel. So, let’s start here.
Audience: Quick question, Blake Selzer, I worked in the Syria region for an international humanitarian organization. The question is for Assistant Secretary Henshaw. First, thanks for your service. We hear people thanking military service. I’d like to thank you for your political career service people as well.
Amb. Chamberlin: Thank you for that.
Audience: And the work you guys do is incredibly important. I agree with you in terms of, we’ve made some strides in education, and work abilities for refugees in neighboring countries, is our long, hard-fought victories for those of us doing advocacy. My question is really about, and the support from the U.S. is incredibly important, but my question is, since this is a policy discussion on conflicts, costs, and policy pathways, the current administration’s policy to cut in half the number of refugees being admitted into the U.S. from 110,000 to 45,000. How is that being perceived internationally? Because when we’re trying to push Jordan, Lebanon, and others to take in more refugees themselves, we’re cutting in half our numbers. How is that seen in your experience? If you can answer this question, thank you.
Amb. Chamberlin: Okay, question over here.
Audience: Hi, my name’s Celine Ibrahim from St. Timothy’s school. I have a question. So, in the beginning you mentioned programs that you’re doing to help with children’s mental health, and I was just wondering if you ever faced a block with parents, maybe if they have different cultural biases against mental health issues?
Amb. Chamberlin: Good question.
Audience: Yeah, and this is almost a follow up on that. I’m Lebanese-American, I’m a cross-cultural educator and an art therapist. I was very interested in the mental health aspect of your discussion. But also, what I’ve seen from art therapists trying to go into Syria or Lebanon to help refugees, having absolutely no idea about the culture. So, how do you address that, taking something that may be wonderful in a Western society, and even here we have male psychology which is very different from female psychology, how are you addressing people who go there to help or to train? And I really appreciate what Ms. Lockhart said, to train the local population, both the refugee population but also the host country population. But also sensitizing them and educating them about the culture they’re going in. Because if you don’t create trust, I’m a therapist, I did art therapy in Saudi Arabia, which I never thought I would do. And so, how do you address that culture training of those who are amazing and are going there to help with all their heart? And that is my concern, thank you.
Amb. Chamberlin: Good. Good. Let’s take one more from here and then we’ll answer them.
Audience: My name’s Hila Hidari. As a refugee myself, I’ve had firsthand understanding of how disparate the experiences can be between refugees and other immigrant groups. So, my question is what feasibly should host countries do to adjust the unique needs of refugees to help them integrate better into society? So, that they’re not alienated by these negative images of their country, their representations of their country, or overwhelmed by, as you mentioned, the psychological duress that they face?
Amb. Chamberlin: Thank you. Open it up to the panel?
Mr. Henshaw: So, I guess I’m first. Thank you very much for noting our service. Much appreciated. So, the effect of our admissions reduction and numbers on support, or what the view of that is in foreign countries, housing refugees, I think they focus far more on our financial support. Our impact has always been far greater in what we do overseas, 85 percent of PRM’s money goes to supporting assistance for refugees overseas. And when we’re talking about whether it was the last administration’s 85,000 or this administration’s 45,000, it’s still a relatively small number compared with the 25 million refugees around the world. So, I think that what countries focus on is the support we’re giving them to house refugees inside their country. I do think that they see it as an important part, it’s an important program. It’s a program that I certainly support under the right security constraints. But they’re probably still waiting to see how the reduced numbers impact their populations in each country. And that won’t be clear for a few months, I think, and then we’ll start to get a reaction. Though, again, I think the focus will continue to be on the huge amount of support that we give overseas.
Amb. Chamberlin: Hideki, did you have anything you’d like to say? You don’t have to.
Mr. Matsunaga: Yeah, maybe I would like to respond to the lady’s question, if I may, about what, I couldn’t catch so well, but what the host community can do for refugees? And of course, it depends on the country and it depends on the refugee situation, it’s quite different. But what the World Bank, relatively newcomer to this refugee area, what - for example I like to just introduce one example of what we are trying to do. In Jordan, we have been having a lot of policy dialogue with the government of Jordan and asked them to provide work permits to refugees. And formalize their work because most of the refugees tend to work in informal sector in a very hazardous, dangerous and dire situation. But we have been talking with Jordan’s government to formalize it.
But instead, we’re talking with the EU. And those companies, who have a certain percentage, which employ the certain number of refugees, can’t export to EU market in a free financial status that’s similar, like free trade. So, it’s like a win-win sort of situation we try to create through this kind of policy dialogue. So, first of all, introduce people living there, as Michael said, tends to be protracted situations. So, whether you generally have a good job or not, that really matters a lot. And we try to sort of create such environments through such political policy dialogue.
Amb. Chamberlin: Yeah, I’d say Turkey has done some amazing work in this area, probably didn’t get enough credit for it. But it gives work permits to refugees and it sets up schools for Syrian refuges within Turkey. Clare? And then you can wrap up. And I think, okay.
Amb. Klosson: Okay, so I’m gonna do both that latter point. But also on the mental health point, you’re absolutely right. Excellent questions, excellent points. And I support them a hundred percent. We don’t show up and say, “Hi, I’m Dr. Sigmund and I’m going to make you better.” That’s not how this works. It’s very much, all of the strategies that we use are tailored to the situation at hand. And the people that are doing this work, I mean, inside Syria, we are doing, as I said, some fairly basic level mental health psycho-social services provision. And it’s all Syrians. There’s no Americans that we employ or Brits or others that are doing the work inside Syria.
So, it’s very much the nationals inside the countries that we work that do this. And it has to be brought out in such a way that it’s tailored. It’s adaptive. And particularly whether parents, if parents are not interested in it, they’re not interested in it. And we find this situation in a lot of places, for example, trying to get girls in school where this hasn’t been the culture. I mean, we have to come up with smart strategies for helping, try to bring those types of things about. So, I agree with you, it has to be culturally tailored and that’s pretty much what we do. And I’d be glad to have a conversation with both of you, if you’d like.
On the integration point, I think there’s been a real big push over the number of years that there’s a real burden that the refugee hosting countries have assumed by doing this, and so there’s an understanding that they shouldn’t alone. And a lot of these countries are not the wealthiest countries in the world. In many instances, when you think about where a lot of the refugee populations are. So, there’s this push to have more mutual accountability and more mutual responsibility in place to do that, and so there’s a, coming out of some UN summits last year, there’s now a big effort to put into place a global compact on refugees and a separate one on migration. And the idea in there is sort of mutual responsibility.
And so, we, NGOs like Save the Children, when I was talking earlier about the most deprived, if you take all the forcibly displaced people in the world, 65 million or so, put them in one country, they’re the 21st largest country in the world-- And if you look at the statistics of the kids, you know in terms of their health status, educational status, it’s bad. So, for the way we’re looking at the refugees, in particular, which is a subset of those, is that this is a group that is, across the world, is quite marginalized and they need some special attention. So, within this global compact on refugees, we’ve been pushing, for example, for host governments to put kids into school. But they shouldn’t alone have to bear the burden of that. So, that they bring kids into international education systems, but there’s other resources. World Bank, as Hideki has been talking about in Jordan and Lebanon. You work out a way where the international community as a whole is working together in this comprehensive refugee response framework. So, hopefully it will be a lot clearer by the end of next year when all this is supposed to be wrapped, with a little bowtie on top of it.
Amb. Chamberlin: Clare? Thank you Michael.
Ms. Lockhart: Just a couple of quick comments. And again, I am not trained in psychotherapy at all, but from what I’ve observed, is in so many of these societies, there aren’t many professionally trained psychotherapists and there isn’t going to be the ability to bring in lots from the outside. Where people can, that’s absolutely fantastic. But what are the traditional and cultural ways that the societies have through storytelling, through narrative, through arts and culture, at dealing with their past? Or dealing with trauma and difficult issues? And I think sort of looking for those mechanisms within the societies is one important part.
There was a conference a few years ago convened by the UN and the World Bank where a group of former heads of state who had handled very [inaudible] post-conflict transitions got together, and when they were reflecting on what they thought they had performed poorly on, they said the hardest thing they found was dealing with the past and dealing with this issue of intergroup trust and the trauma. And they felt that they hadn’t, this was what the international community failed to pay enough attention to. And then they themselves didn’t create the space for getting that right, as hard as it is.
Amb. Chamberlin: Good. Question?
Audience: This Nashir Naimi. I’m a student of international relations at Virginia International University. My question is specifically about Afghanistan. Thank you very much, Michael, you brought up some of the points regarding the education of those children and about their shelter and basic needs. But one of the points which was not discussed in the panel is the deportation, actually. Because from Afghanistan, the refugee perspective, you see they lose all of their properties and they sell everything in order to reach the European countries. And some of them even being killed on the borders, and being killed in the Mediterranean Sea. But at the end when they reach their safe, they are being deported. Even last month, it was reported that 10,000 refugees are waiting to be deported from there. So, is it any policy for them that what they will do back in their countries, when they lost everything there?
Amb. Chamberlin: Thank you.
Audience: Hi, Sam Schneider. I’m a consultant with the World Bank. So, my question is about the intersection of development and refugee repatriation. So, we’ve talked a little bit about programs to create a more friendly environment, and positive environment, for refugees in host countries. But I’m interested about what efforts right now exist and what opportunities there are for making sure that when refugees are repatriating, they’re going back with more skills, job opportunities, and for the high net worth individuals, capital mobilized to reinvest in their communities? Thank you.
Amb. Chamberlin: It’s a good follow on to the last question. Thank you. Yes?
Audience: Hi, I’m Sophie Spencer with the Syria Institute. First, thank you to the panelists and moderator for participating today. My question is: what is the plan for the U.S. and coordinating organizations like the World Bank? What’s their plan on recovery and reconstructions in areas of Syria that have been intentionally destroyed and depopulated? And effectively, demographically engineered by the Syrian government and its allies?
Amb. Chamberlin: Thank you. Yes?
Audience: Hi, my name is Amaini. I am Egyptian. I work for the local government in Philadelphia. And I am an economist. I have a comment, or actually a question, to Miss Ambassador. When Mr Hideki said that it’s really difficult for them to identify partners to work with in Syria, you thankfully suggested they can work with some countries who are interested in getting contracts in Syria. So, my question is, and since the crisis that’s happening in the MENA region requires all the different political actors and countries to get involved for the reconstruction process, what are the suggestions that you would have, or say to have, those partners working making sure that they are working for the benefit of the country, not for their own benefits? Since the long-term goal is to have the country growing and having peace and stability. Thank you.
Amb. Chamberlin: Panel?
Amb. Klosson: I’ll take it. On the deportation question, I would say, I mean, what we do in with European governments is we use our voice, and we sort of criticize most - not give refugees status to people who have a well-founded fear of persecution. So, we do call out European governments that are doing that. On the refugee repatriation part, I think a lot of the work that we’re doing to help refugees in countries for a protracted period of time, also play the other role of giving them some skills to take back. So, if we’re pushing to have refugees be educated, that’s going to give them skills whether they’re staying in that country for a long time or going back to their own county. That gives them some marketable skills. That’s the way we look at it.
And we also have, some of the programs for example that I saw, that we do in Egypt, where we’re actually matchmaking between Egyptian companies and refugees. And they’re getting, the refugees are being able to support themselves while they’re there, but they’re also getting skills that could be useful back home. So, I think, that’s one of the ways that NGOs play a role in this space.
Amb. Chamberlin: Excellent.
Mr. Henshaw: I would just say that one of the difficult issues we work with today is mixed migration. So, in any movement of migrants, there are legitimate refugees and then there are people who are economic refugees, or fall into other categories. And nations make decisions on whether or not they see migrants as refugees or not, and those that they don’t are returned. And it is an issue that the world is grappling with right now. It’s one reason why we have global migration talks. Until there are more legal pathways for migrants to move, we’ll continue to face this and we’ll continue to face arguments of whether or not a migrant is a refugee or not.
We run training programs in almost all our sites. Probably not enough of them, but the ones that I’ve visited cover a wide range of skills, everything from, I’ve been in computer labs to woodworking shops, to sewing. So, it depends on the culture. And the need. But we run a lot of livelihood programs so that people will have skills when they return home.
And then on the question, I think it was a good question over here on sort of paying for NGOs and what the long-term effect is on the country? I think that really gets to the question of balancing NGO employment between foreigners and locals. And I think we do a really good job of hiring lots of locals. Everywhere I’ve been, we see NGOs with large local staffs and we’re very supportive of that. But there is a balance where you do need some foreign staff, for instance in times when there are political issues with the government, it’s good to have foreign staff that have more protection and can be less pressured. And there are other reasons that you need foreign staff at certain areas. But there is an emphasis on using local staff so that they can get the skills that they’ll need to move the country forward once the NGOs have left.
Amb. Chamberlin: We’re running very low on time so let’s just take these last three questions and then have one more round. Actually, I see four, huh. Last four questions, real quick. Make your question quick. Okay let’s start over here, then.
Audience: Sure. Hi, my name’s Jessica El Dosoki, and I work at the State Department. And my question is, I wanted to know what the panelists thought about their experiences with the perceptions of host governments and receiving international assistance? Are the governments that you’re working with, are they ever concerned that receiving this kind of assistance maybe will encourage the refugees to stay? Especially because of the uncertainty that we’ve talked about in political processes, and a lot of the assistance is focused on education opportunities and jobs and things like that? Thanks.
Amb. Chamberlin: Okay. You ready?
Audience: One concern in the Middle East. We have political disputes and upheaval. Education, destruction, now children left there. Now what do they do with the concerns? What are some of your concerns that you guys have about how to deal with--
Male Speaker 3: These kids. Education.
Amb. Chamberlin: Concerns in how to deal with the education of the students? [silence]. Okay, I think we’ve got that. What are the concerns about educating some of the kids?
Audience: Kids left, stuck in the situation, [inaudible] crisis, conflict happening around them and they’re stuck in the middle. And impact of money aside, do not 100 percent directly [inaudible] what’s happening around [inaudible] to be stuck and they’re still getting some of the negative impact
Amb. Chamberlin: Yeah –
Audience: Of what’s happening around them. How do you approach that?
Amb. Chamberlin: Excellent question. Okay. Okay.
Audience: Yes, hi. Janet Breslin Smith from Crosswinds. One of the strange qualities about getting old is that I realize I’ve been to panels like this for 50 years. And one of the questions I have and the challenges, especially Wendy following on what you said, and all of you, can you imagine a setting where you would actually tackle what Wendy is talking about? In other words, all of you mention, and certainly my military students of the war college, will talk about, “We need more inclusive government, we need more responsive government, etc.” And yet, we only seem to talk about this in a crisis situation. Can you imagine setting up something regionally with the support of the Institute, the Bank, others, to actually address these core, core issues of governance now? In between crises, as a foundational level. Because everything you’re talking about, economics, job creation, governance, and inclusiveness, all of these are fundamental issues that only the region can resolve themselves? So, I would hope you would do that.
Amb. Chamberlin: Thank you, Janet. Last questions and then we’ll –
Audience: Ahmed Ali. Actually, I’m asking about the role of the international community and World Bank in supporting the hosting countries for refugees in creating jobs for refugees. And as well, making balance for the domestic needs. Already, the job market in countries like Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, is already struggling to lose their liberty and struggling in those countries and there we can make this kind of balancing between, refugees need to work in those countries hosting. And the need of people living these hosting countries, their domestic labors? Thank you.
Amb. Chamberlin: Okay, last comments?
Mr. Henshaw: Okay, very quick answer to host government perceptions. They’re not unified in the country. Different people have different views. Different ministers have different views and they change over time. At first, countries are a little resistant to having any programs that will be long-term, because they want to tell their population that the new refugee population will leave soon. But as reality sets in and they find that the population is there for a while, they seek greater international help in stabilizing the population. So, it’s important for foreign governments and international organizations to realize that is going to be a change over time and to work with this and balance what we ask to match the political realities that politicians face in their home countries.
Mr. Matsunaga: Okay. I would like to touch upon the possible tension concerning jobs with the host, I mean, communities or citizens of nationals and so on. So, of course, it depends on the country. And it depends on the situation. Whether those refugees live in the community or live in the camp, the situation is really totally different. So, I really cannot generalize it. But there’s always certain attention there.
But at the same time, if I look at – we have conducted some of the studies of the economic impact of those refugees and there’s certain positive impacts as well. For example, Jordan, right now they really accommodate so many Syrian refuges. But in the past, they accommodated Iraq refugees, 800,000 Iraq refugees. And now the minister himself would say there was lots of positive impact out of it. And of course, it depends on the refugee situation, it’s really different but we really have to be very careful and totally needs to be aware of that sensitivity as well. Thank you.
Amb. Chamberlin: Thank you.
Ms. Lockhart: I’d like to recognize very much the question and the emphasis on protecting the children who are stuck in the middle of conflict and it’s nothing to do with them? And I think special, special attention needs to be paid to this generation from a protection perspective. But also, back to these programs that can build on the social capital. One example I know well is from Afghanistan at the height of the fighting through the ‘90s, and then the Taliban regime, there were these community fora where the local communities would organize photography, judo, basic education, and try and keep life as normal as possible for this generation. So, there are examples of how it can be done.
And then second, I think this question of, during the conflict, what normally happens is when the conflict ends, and inshallah hopefully they end, then there’s a rush to plan. And the timelines are so short. So, to the question to the lady on the right, Janet, I think it’s such an important – how to use this time responsibly. And if I look at a case I know well, which is Afghanistan which I watched today, two of the three initiatives that are most popular in the surveys that come out, actually had their roots in people who had the foresight to say we need to start planning now for what comes after. And one was this community forum program. Building social facilitators and whole network of people who wanted to build, rather than destroy.
And the second was people, and a lot of it was individual action, who took refugees and they made sure they were to help them get their education and help nurture this next generation, who are now, 20 years later, coming into their 30s and 40s and stepping into leadership. But without the people who took that initiative to train this next generation, this new generation of leaders wouldn’t have been possible. But to agree. And I think in terms of a sort of an initiative, I’ll leave that to Wendy’s judgment, and expertise. But as I’ve looked at this area, I see an enormous need for it.
But also there’s a tremendous amount going on. We started with such a mapping exercise. And I think we stopped when we counted 65 different initiatives across the Middle East. And some of them sort of local and civic groups, or international organizations, and as a whole, it’s to be able to network and create platforms and connections amongst them so they can share ideas is tremendously needed.
Amb. Chamberlin: Michael.
Amb. Klosson: Sure. So, on the question of perceptions of host governments, I think that’s a terrific question. And I think what Simon’s answered actually points up the need for dialogue. And certainly the way these issues are best addressed is not to go to a host government saying, “This is what you should do.” So, when we’re talking, and whether it’s in the Middle East or in other countries, when we’re talking with host officials, the whole point is to help understand what’s the problem you’re trying to deal with, and then sort of what can you bring to bear as part of a mutually identified solution? And that’s kind of how these things can, over time, can kind of move along.
So, it’s not a question of “thou shalt,” but rather a question of, here’s what I can bring to bear and what’s a problem you’re facing? And for example, in some of the Middle East countries, the refugee populations are not in camps. They’re actually not settling in the swanky parts of town. They’re in the really pretty marginalized communities. And those communities are also suffering from some of the same problems that refugees are suffering from. So, what we’re advocating for, and what we do in our programming, is if you’re a refugee you get sort of favored and if you’re not, too bad. It’s really trying to build bridges across the refugee populations with the host communities. And that’s one way to sort of move that process forward.
On the question of children, that’s what keeps me awake at night. That’s what we’re all about. And it’s a terrific question. And I would completely agree with what Clare is saying. I think in the first instance, what we find when we’ve looked at some of these issues, is where the family unit is intact, it’s really the family unit. It’s the family that’s protecting the children. [laughter] And we see that in very difficult circumstances. I mean, some of the work we did on Iraqi kids, if the family was all together and the child was with the family, those children were much better off than kids who were sort of separated or not. So, that’s the first responsibility and the best mechanism, frankly, is the family. Beyond that, it just goes back to what I said earlier, and I won’t repeat it, on the sort of fairly basic support that we provide through these things called child-friendly spaces that do seem to make a difference.
Amb. Chamberlin: Well, I’m very happy. Because this panel has done exactly what I’d hoped it would do. It has provided any number of very positive, constructive ideas to how to deal with the problems rather than just whining about them. So, a round of applause for an exceptional panel [applause]. Thank you, so much.
[End of Audio]
Duration: 93 minutes