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London conference a political meeting — gov’t

By Khetam Malkawi - Feb 03,2016 - Last updated at Feb 03,2016

AMMANJordan views the London refugee  conference slated for Thursday as a “political conference” and not only an event where donors will pledge humanitarian aid for the victims of the Syrian crisis, a senior official said Tuesday.

Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani, who is also the government’s spokesperson, urged the world community not only to offer more help to those affected by the war raging in Syria for the past five years, but also to find other approaches to do so.

“The world should make more commitments and help regarding the Syrian crisis,” Momani said at a meeting with foreign correspondents, stressing that the international community should provide sustainable assistance to the Kingdom through new funding mechanisms.

Momani stressed that the support offered to Jordan, which is hosting around 1.3 million Syrians, should be through grants rather than loans, and advised the EU to ease its “rules of origin” regulations to allow more Jordanian exports to Europe.

He noted that this would help create new job opportunities for both Jordanians and Syrians.

He explained that the unemployment rate in Jordan is 13 per cent, and that poverty rates are higher. “This should be understood by everybody.”

The plan to be presented at the London donors’ conference is a three-year resilience plan to respond to the impact of the Syrian crisis on Jordan.

Funding required for the 2016-2018 Jordan Response Plan is estimated at around $8 billion — $2.5 billion for humanitarian needs, $2.5 billion in financial support to host communities and $3 billion to compensate the Treasury for the burdens it will bear.  

The plan will also propose the employment of Syrian refugees in Jordan, a measure that hinges on incoming investments into the Kingdom with the help of global partners, officials have emphasised. 

In an interview with the Financial Times, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said Jordan is prepared to allow tens of thousands of Syrians to work in the kingdom, if the international community agrees to extend billions of dollars worth of aid for its economy, which is “buckling under the burden of hosting more than a million refugees”.

Ensour told the paper that Jordan might provide jobs for up to 150,000 Syrians over several years — but only if donors agree to its request for a “holistic” aid plan for the refugee crisis that will address its own citizens’ needs too.

“It has to be a win-win,” Ensour told the Financial Times in an interview. “It has to expand job opportunities for Jordanians [too]; it can’t be one-sided.”

 

The employment of the Syrians, however, should not be at the expense of Jordanians, the government has declared.

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