"We are already assisting the people of Syria, the refugees that are now in Lebanon and Jordan," Belhaj said on Thursday. "We are doing a lot for them. We try to help them with jobs, education and health."
"No. For now, clearly the environment is not conducive to that," Belhaj said on Friday when asked whether the World Bank was ready to participate in Syria's reconstruction. "So, it is not an issue that we are looking at right now."
When further asked whether the World Bank would look at taking part in Syria’s reconstruction when the conditions permit and the environment is safe, Belhaj said the international lender would first want to ensure an international consensus.
"And then we’ll look at it, the way we do with every other country actually," he added.
As most of the heavy fighting in Syria is now over and the war is nearing its end, the Syrian government has started welcoming back citizens who were forced to flee the armed conflict and seek asylum in other countries. The influx of more than a million Syrian refugees to Lebanon has put a strain the country's economy as Lebanon's total population was estimated at just over 6.082 million people in 2017, according to the data of the World Bank.
The UN Refugee Agency is proving financial aid to the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in the Middle East, mainly in Lebanon and Jordan. However, according to the UNHCR, this aid fails to cover all Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
According to the latest information obtained by the Russian Defense Ministry's Center for the Reception, Allocation and Accommodation of Refugees, a total of 31,976 Syrians have returned to their homes from abroad since July 18. At the same time, UN Refugee Agency has said that there are still over 6 million registered refugees seeking asylum in 45 countries worldwide.
Meanwhile, the World Bank is trying to secure financing for reconstruction of conflict-torn Yemen, and currently channels its resources through United Nations agencies due to lack of presence in the country.
"For now what we try to do in Yemen is really to find financing to help in reconstruction and to help in addressing humanitarian/development crisis," Belhaj said on Thursday. "So, what we do, because we don’t have a presence in Yemen right now, is to channel the resources that we have through UN agencies, UNICEF being one of them and hopefully we’ll see things calming down the road, but the situation is really dramatic."