World Bank to assess damage from Georgia war

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A World Bank team will travel to Georgia on Friday to assess economic damage caused by the conflict with Russia and to discuss reconstruction plans, a senior bank official said on Thursday.

Theodore Ahlers, World Bank vice president for Europe and Central Asia, said Georgia’s economic fundamentals were strong but the economy depended on foreign investment and growth would likely be affected.

“At the government’s request the bank will assist the authorities in assessing the toll of the damage and reconstruction needs with international partners and other stakeholders through a follow-up mission,” Ahlers said in a statement.

He said the World Bank will help the government establish a multi-donor trust fund for reconstruction investment.

The World Bank assessment will focus on damage to infrastructure, such as roads and railway lines, and the environment and agriculture sectors, Ahlers said.

He expressed concern with reports of forest fires in Georgia’s Borjomi national park. Georgia has accused Russia of deliberately starting a fire that threatens to destroy an area regarded by Georgians as a national treasure.

“The World Bank sincerely hopes that arrangements can be made urgently to facilitate access to the area of the necessary equipment and other resources to bring these fires under control as soon as possible.”

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