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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Jordan Feels the Squeeze as Aid to Syrian Refugees Falls

Politics

Mohammad Ghazal

Wed, 14 Aug 2019 10:45 GMT

With Jordan receiving less than 6% of the international funding required to provide for Syrian refugees, experts warn of a decline in the quality of services and a further rise in the country's growing public debt.

Jordan, whose public debt to gross domestic product ratio exceeds 94%, is home to 1.3 million Syrian refugees of whom around 88% are living outside refugee camps.

In order to be able to provide services to these refugees, the country launched a plan appealing for $2.4 billion for 2019. By the end of the first half of this year, Jordan only received some $136.3 million, which, according to the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, is around 5.7% of the total funding required for this year.

Of the total amount of support received under the plan until the end of June, around $35.5 million was allocated to refugees, $100.8 million to resilience, $38.9 million was allocated to livelihood support and $22.4 million as support for the health sector. Some $8.6 million was earmarked for social protection and some $63.6 million was allocated for supporting the education sector, according to the ministry.

"Pressure on Jordan is mounting and the decline in aid by the international community is increasing the burden on the Kingdom, which has a very high public debt ratio," says economist Wajdi Makhamreh.

"Jordan did not expect the crisis in Syria to last this long and the decline in aid by the donor countries will force the Kingdom to resort to borrowing, which will make it difficult to reduce public debt as desired and increase the budget deficit," he adds.

Jordan's overall public debt has reached around 29.5 billion dinars, or around 94% of the country’s gross domestic product. At the end of 2018, it was 28.32 billion dinars.

The government has either to increase taxes or borrow to finance projects and to be able to continue to provide services to the Syrian refugees and host communities, says Makhamreh.

"The decline in aid will affect services in different sectors and infrastructure… Jordan needs to place pressure on the international community," he adds.

Support needed as Syrians not returning

Economist Hosam Ayesh said the international community failed to honour its pledges to Jordan, which opened its doors to the fleeing refugees.

"Jordan never got all the aid it asked for over the past years but receiving only 6% of the needed funding so far this year is a precedent," he told 7Dnews.

"This will greatly affect the government's ability to continue providing services to the Syrian refugees and will affect programmes directed towards refugees and host communities and the quality of services will also be affected negatively," he said. 

"Jordan opened its labour market for the Syrians and issued work permits… Jordan did not use the Syrian refugees as a means to place pressure on donor countries as other countries in the region did," said Ayesh.

Jordan has been dealing with the Syrian refugees from a humanitarian perspective offering all it can to them and thus it needs continued support as the vast majority of refugees remains in the country.

Since the Jaber/Nassib border crossing between Syria and Jordan reopened in mid-October 2018, some 20,000 Syrian refugees have returned to Syria.

Of the total 1.3 million Syrians in Jordan, around 660,000 are registered with the UNHCR.

Middle East