Development minister Liliane Ploumen will visit New York and Washington DC from Thursday 20 April through Monday 24 April. The main purpose of her visit is to meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, attend the World Bank Spring Meetings and give a speech at the George Washington University.
The minister’s journey will start in New York, where she will meet with António Guterres, who took up the post of UN Secretary-General last December. ‘Our main topic of conversation will be the current humanitarian crises in Africa and the Middle East,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘I would like to hear what ideas he has for making the UN more effective and better equipped to respond decisively to conflicts, famines and refugee flows.’
After New York, the Minister will attend the World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington. One of the items on the agenda is making soft loans available to middle income countries. Jordan and Lebanon have been eligible for such loans since last year, at the initiative of the Netherlands and other countries, as both countries’ economies are under pressure from the enormous influx of Syrian refugees. ‘In the current situation we need to have the courage to take new steps to support countries that are taking in refugees,’ Ms Ploumen said. ‘If donors contribute humanitarian aid that helps both refugees and their host communities – for instance by promoting education and jobs – this can generate soft loans three to four times greater than the aid. Such loans are essential to relieve pressure on these societies.’
She Decides – the Minister’s international initiative to safeguard family planning for millions of women in developing countries – is also high on the agenda in the US capital. Talks are under way with a number of countries, NGOs and private institutions on how to follow up the recent successful conference in Brussels that sparked donations of over €180 million. On the final day of her visit Ms Ploumen will give a speech at the George Washington University to explain her initiative in more detail. ‘Besides talking to representatives of countries and organisations, it’s also very important to engage in dialogue with young people,’ said the minister. ‘They represent the future and often have inspiring ideas about how it should be shaped. So I’m particularly looking forward to this part of my trip, and to my discussions with them.’