Jordan, UK discuss following up outcomes of London and Helsinki's conferences

[06-02-2017 02:01 PM]

Ammon News - AMMONNEWS - Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Imad Fakhoury, Monday discussed with United Kingdom's Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel, bilateral relations, economic and development cooperation and means of enhancing them in all fields.

Fakhoury expressed appreciation of UK's increased support to the Kingdom provided through the Jordan Compact and the Jordan Response Plan (JRP) to Syrian Crisis, especially after the London Conference. He also hailed the UK's role in urging the international community to honor its pledges in the said conference.

The meeting, which was attended by the British ambassador in Amman Edward Oakden and was later joined by UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien, discussed following up the outcomes of the London and Helsinki's conferences.

During the meeting, the Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria 2017 and the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan 2017-2018 were drafted based on the national response plans of countries affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. The minister explained the JRP 2017-2019, which handles the substantial humanitarian issues relevant to the crisis.

The two sides also tackled mobilizing support to JRP 2017-2019, especially in what concerns the implementation of Jordan Compact, in addition to the arrangements of the European Union's initiative to hold an international conference to follow up on the outcomes of London Conference in Brussels next April.

The British official highlighted the important role Jordan plays under the leadership of His Majesty the King, and its role in providing a global public good on behalf of the international community in what concerns refugees.

Patel also highlighted Jordan's holistic approach in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis and the Jordan Compact, which is an example to follow. The UK, she said, is keen to continue support to Jordan to enable it continue its reform and development programs. "It is also keen on supporting the JRP 2017-2019," she added.

The minister urged the international community to increase its support to Jordan for this year as well as for the coming years, to honor the pledges it took in the "London Conference" and translate them into genuine financing that meets Jordanian needs approved of in the JRP. The financing volume of programs and projects of the Jordan Response Plan to the Syrian crisis in 2016 amounted to 54% of the required funding. This is a positive increase compared with the average support registered in the years prior to 2016, which covered only one third of annual needs, adding that the uncovered funding gap still stands at 45% of those needs.

Fakhoury stressed the importance of international community's increased support to Jordan and its response plans to the Syrian crisis. This increased support, he said, would enable Jordan to continue playing its pivotal role, providing its much-appreciated example, facing economic challenges, enhancing its resilience, and continuing providing services.

"It is of utmost importance that sufficient support is mobilized for the JRP 2017-2019," he reiterated.

He also stressed on further cooperation to attract British and European investments to benefit of Jordan- EU agreement of easing rules of origin and other free trade agreements that characterize Jordanian economy.

Jordan, he said, is essential in backing reconstruction efforts in the region in general, Syria and Iraq in particular. He also stressed the need to technical support to existing industrial investments that desire to export their products to Europe, as an implementation of the eased rules of origin with the EU. Those enterprises, he said, need networking with the European private sector to promote new investments from abroad.

The minister pleaded with the international community and donor countries to continue its due support to Jordan though increasing grants to the budget and the JRPs. It is extremely important to increase concessionary loans intended for the kingdom's development needs. Although Jordan is classified as a middle-income country, it is affected by conflicts in neighboring countries.

Jordan also needs support to either alleviate or swap debts, Fakhoury added.

The meeting also covered a number of choices relevant to organizing a conference to follow up on the London Conference outcomes in the next few months. This includes the European proposal to convene an international conference in Brussels next April to maintain the momentum of support to refugee-hosting countries, discuss the progress of work in London outcomes and identifying gaps and means of providing the necessary additional financing.

The minister underlined that challenges facing Jordan are not limited to the refugee issue. Rather, it is an issue that affects all aspects of life in Jordan. Therefore, the JRP 2017-2019, approved by the Jordanian government and the international community will focus on supporting refugee-hosting communities and budget support.

The plan, announced in the presence of representatives of Arab and foreign countries, the UN Resident Representative and representatives of UN agencies, is recognized as the only national reference to identify the needs of responding to the Syrian crisis.

The minister reiterated that the Syrian crisis affected all aspects of life in Jordan and pressured services, resources and infrastructure. It has resulted in hikes in rentals especially in poor neighborhoods, in addition to the strains on the budget caused by the cost of rendering services, security measures, increased subsidies resulting from increased consumption of subsidized commodities, and the aggravation of social and environmental problems.

The Syrian crisis is no longer an issue of giving shelter, relief and urgent assistance. Rather, it affects all aspects of life in Jordan and other refugee-hosting countries. Therefore, Jordan adopted the approach to increase resilience, which handles humanitarian and development needs of each sector, in addition to the component of budget support.

Requirements and burdens of the Syrian crisis, he stressed, are too great to be borne by Jordan alone. The kingdom, he confirmed once again, is providing a global public good on behalf of the international community.

Jordan reached a point of saturation, where it is no longer capable of continuing to bear the burdens of hosting Syrian refugees on behalf of the world, he said. The international community's continued support to Jordan would enable the Kingdom to enhance its resilience and consequently continue to render services to refugees, he concluded.

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