Next week, I will be joining World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on an historic joint visit to Africa's Great Lakes Region. The aim of the trip is to brainstorm with African leaders solutions to helping the people of the Great Lakes prosper.
This visit is important for two reasons - it highlights a new era of global institutions working together to promote stability, and it signals to the citizens of fragile and conflict affected nations our commitment: we will not leave you behind.
Many countries in today’s world have struggled, or are struggling, through war or political conflict to rebuild themselves and lift their people out of poverty. They are called fragile states, nations with poor health and education, little or no electricity, disorganized or weakened institutions, and in many cases no functioning governments. In Africa, 18 of the 48 countries in the sub Region are considered fragile, six of them so much so that UN, NATO or African Union forces are on the ground helping to keep peace.
A documentary shows the importance of sports in uniting conflict-affected communities
Ismael Bikomati in Scoring for Peace.
“When I joined the rebels, I was 12 years old. I went there because we didn’t have enough food at home,” says Ismael Bikomati in Scoring for Peace, a documentary seeking to spread the message of peace globally.
Bikomati, an athlete with a contagious smile, is a high school student in Bubanza, a city in northwestern Burundi. He is a midfielder for his team and the captain as well. He is one of a group of 500 players from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda who competed in the Great Lakes Peace Cup. It was organized by the World Bank during the spring and summer of 2012 to help former combatants rebuild relationships with their communities.
In Gaza earlier this week I met a group of students learning cutting-edge computer animation skills at a technical institute we support. And I met a crowd of women in a small village where simple street paving has made all the difference to their mobility, their children’s health and access to education, and I sensed, their civic pride. All good barometers of development you'd think except these particular students go out into an economy where youth unemployment hovers at around 50 percent with few prospects for improvement.
Yemeni women are some of the fiercest women I have ever met. Through conflicts and famine, many have had to struggle for the survival of their families. The abject poverty afflicts Yemeni women in particularly harsh ways, yet they carry on and persevere. Still, their pride in their culture and love for their beautiful country always shines through.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim at Fragility Forum 2013 in Washington D.C. with Lara Logan, CBS News and "60 Minutes" Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent.
In the late 1990s, my parents and neighbors used to talk about how our fellow Nepalis were killing each other, or how our government was unstable, or how the country was paralyzed. As a teenager who didn’t have much access to mass media, I didn’t fully understand what it all meant. All I knew was that I often used to stay home from school due to strikes imposed by political parties. I would later learn from my dad that the country was going through a civil war.
In 2006, as I was preparing to apply to universities in the United States for an undergraduate degree, Nepal's decade-long civil war was coming to an end. Later, in an undergraduate political science class, I would learn that Nepal is considered a fragile and conflict-affected country. Reflecting on it, I knew that there were numerous other countries like Nepal around the world.
After decades of suppressed voice, an inability to say what one thought, to protest, to offer a contrary point of view or dissent – the Arab world is at last unshackled to say exactly what it wants and wherever it wants. Nowhere is this more true than on the streets of the Arab capitals where an explosion of graffiti is voicing the views of the people in both words and pictures.
Ninety minutes after leaving Nairobi, UN flight 13W banks sharply over the Somali coastline in a series of steep turns that line it up for final approach into Mogadishu airport. The sharp turns are standard security measures to minimize exposure to fire from would-be attackers on the ground. Out of the starboard window, a number of small boats cut a slow, languid path through the ocean, while closer to the airport, large merchant ships sit anchored just off the end of the runway waiting to be unloaded in the nearby port which is the city’s economic lifeline. As we land, the tarmac shimmers in the 100 degree heat that now envelopes the city.
We’ve come to Mogadishu to present the findings of a new Bank study called The Pirates of Somalia: Ending the Threat: Rebuilding a Nation to senior ministers from the Somali government. The report concludes that Somalia cannot ‘buy’ its way out of piracy, and neither can the international community rely solely on its navies and law enforcement agencies to defeat the pirates, whether at sea or on land. The solution to Somali piracy is first and foremost political.
In a fresh look at ending piracy off the Horn of Africa, the Bank suggests that a sustained solution to ending piracy will only come with the recreation of a viable Somali state that can deliver essential health, education, nutrition, and other services throughout the entire country, especially in those areas where piracy flourishes.
This is good day for asset recovery. First and foremost it is a victory for the Tunisian people and the Tunisian government. It demonstrates that the consistent and patient efforts undertaken by the authorities in Tunis, including the Tunisian Financial Intelligence Unit, the Committee for the return of Stolen Assets, and the Ministry of Justice, are now paying off.
The very fact alone that this country and its people were in bondage for 42 years is unbelievable. The fact that the nation rose up against tyranny in spite of real danger, incredible losses and an uncertain outcome is a testimony to the courage and determination of a people to win their freedom. And the fact that the Libyan people, and especially its young men and women, hold such incredible optimism about the future, speaks to the indomitable spirit of a nation.