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Red Cross increases budget for Jordan, expands operations

By Muath Freij - Jun 15,2014 - Last updated at Jun 15,2014

AMMAN –– The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has extended its budget for Syria and neighbouring countries, making it the highest budget it has reached in the past 15 years, according to an ICRC official.

Although several countries have witnessed crises in the past 15 years, the Syrian conflict is the most demanding in terms of relief work, ICRC Jordan Spokesperson Hala Shamlawi told The Jordan Times in a recent interview.  

The top 10 operations for the ICRC in 2014 in terms of budget are Syria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Iraq, Mali, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Sudan and Colombia, according to an ICRC statement.  

The total budget for the organisation's activities in Syria in 2014 will reach approximately $157 million — it was initially around $119 million.

In Jordan, the budget will be $35.6 million, after initially having been around $17.5 million. 

The organisation's budget will be around $43.1 million for Lebanon, $81 million for Iraq and $5.3 for Egypt, according to the statement.  

"During the past 15 years, the ICRC did not extend its budget for its operations in a specific country like we [have done] during the Syrian crisis," Shamlawi said. 

The decision was taken because the demands of the Syrian crisis are increasing and the number of refugees is on the rise within Syria and outside the country, she noted.

"One of the ICRC's main priorities is to assist Syrians inside Syria as there are a great number displaced inside the country," Shamlawi added.  

"Also, we provide Syrian refugees who fled the violence to neighbouring countries with assistance," she said.   

The ICRC official noted that the international organisation will have a permanent presence in the Kingdom's northern region to ensure adequate implementation of the ongoing and additional activities in the field. 

Through its extended budget, the ICRC will further boost its main services in the Kingdom. 

In cooperation with the Jordan Red Crescent Society (JRCS), the ICRC will expand its cash support programme to help around 4,000 families in Mafraq, some 80km northeast of Amman, and 400 in Madaba, 30km southwest of Amman, enabling them to cover basic needs including rent and food.   

Shamlawi said the ICRC provides $70-$300 to each Syrian family.

The ICRC will also support the JRCS by funding the training of around 200 Syrian women at the JRCS vocational training centre to enable them to support their families, she added.

"Last year, we trained around 70 Syrian women in Amman on hairstyling, using the computer and sewing."

The organisation also continues to implement the "restoring family links programme", enabling Syrian refugees to contact their family members across Syria and beyond. It has an office at the Zaatari camp for this service and plans to open a new office in Azraq Refugee Camp, 100km east of Amman.

Shamlawi noted that as Jordan's resources are spread too thin with the increased demand for water, the ICRC, in cooperation with local water representatives, will help rehabilitate critical urban water infrastructure this year in Mafraq Governorate, serving some 200,000 people in host communities.

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