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UK ambassador says world should do more for refugees, hosts

By Khetam Malkawi - Jan 31,2016 - Last updated at Jan 31,2016

AMMAN — The UK has been at the forefront of the humanitarian effort to Syria and has pledged more than $1.6 billion in aid, including $0.5 billion to Jordan specifically, said Edward Oakden, the UK ambassador to Jordan.

Of this, $100 million was extended last year alone, and half of that has gone directly to Jordanian host communities, Oakden told The Jordan Times via e-mail, ahead of the London-hosted donor conference that will take place on February 4 under the title “Supporting Syria and the Region”.

 In spite of this, the 2015 UN-coordinated inter-agency appeals for the Syria crisis were only around 50 per cent funded, the ambassador noted. 

“This lack of funding means that Syrian people didn't receive enough of the food, shelter and medical treatment they have needed so desperately, and places extra strain on the resources of host countries like Jordan, which have gone all out to support those who have fled,” the ambassador explained, stressing that this year, the international community needs to do better and this conference will be an important step in that direction.

He explained that Syria is the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis and needs urgent action to help refugees and the communities hosting them across the region. The needs and suffering are immense, he said, with over 18 million people in Syria and neighbouring countries in need of urgent help.

“That’s why the UK is bringing together world leaders in London to co-host this conference, with Kuwait, Germany, Norway and the United Nations, to intensify the international spotlight on the needs of those affected, nearly five years after they first started fleeing brutality and conflict”.

Participants represent over 70 countries, international organisations, NGOs, civil society and the private sector, which will “come together in London to raise further humanitarian and development funding, and address the longer-term needs of those affected”, according to the diplomat.

He added that the conference’s programme will focus both on meeting the UN’s immediate funding need, and on how the international community can work together to help to create regional economic and educational opportunities, including for host communities. 

 “This might look like agreements to facilitate additional trade and investment here, which in turn will create more jobs in Jordan,” the ambassador said.

In an interview with The Jordan Times a day before, Mohammad Momani, minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications, stressed Jordan’s call on the international community to adopt a new approach to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis.

He added that the new strategy should not be based on humanitarian relief alone, but should also include economic development goals, for the Kingdom to be able to continue carrying the burden of hosting the refugees.

As for the employment of Syrians in the country’s job market, Momani said: “If the world wants us to be able to help Jordanians affected by the Syrian crisis and Syrian refugees, then the national economy must be helped to provide economic and employment opportunities for Jordanians as well as Syrians.”

 

“This cannot be done given the huge burden on the Jordanian economy unless this economy grows sustainably and sufficiently... we want access to their [donors’] markets and ease of access to the rules of origins,” the minister explained.

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