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Monday, February 13, 2017
Jordan received 60pct of London conference's pledges [refugee aid], says minister

Jordan received 60pct of London conference's pledges, says minister
http://www.petra.gov.jo/Public_News/Nws_NewsDetails.aspx?lang=2&site_id=1&NewsID=289164&CatID=13

Amman, Feb. 13 (Petra) -- Jordan has received about 60 per cent of the total
value of pledges donors made during a 2016 conference in London to support
the Jordan Response Plan designed to address burdens arising from a massive
influx of Syrian refugees, Minister of Planning and International
Cooperation, Imad Fakhoury, said on Monday.

The minister told a joint press conference with the ambassadors of the
European Union (EU), Britain, Germany and Norway, and the United Nation's
(UN) Resident Representative that only 36 per cent of the value of pledges
made in 2015 were fulfilled but in 2016 the ratio increased to 60 per cent.

He added that there are agreements of additional commitments for 2016
amounting to $522 million that are being still negotiated and will be signed
during the first half of 2017.

According to Fakhoury, Jordan has secured an amount of $923.6 million in the
form of soft loans concluded in 2016, including $834.6 million channeled to
support the state's budget and $89 million to finance developmental
projects. He said this soft financing was pledged by donors and banks during
the London conference.

He stressed the importance of this funding to cover a financing gap in the
budget through reducing interest rates, extending grace and repayment
periods, as that would help in restructuring public debt in accordance with
the fiscal reform program agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund
(IMF).

The minister thanked EU members for supporting Jordan, saying such support
enabled the Kingdom to secure additional regional financing windows,
including the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the
"Madad Fund", as well as the support that was provided through a World
Bank-run soft financing mechanism.

He said the government, with the support of donor countries and bodies, has
taken the necessary measures to increase the number of Syrian refugee
students in schools, taking into account maintaining the level and quality
of education provided for Jordanian students.

Also, in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and
through donor's support, the minister indicated that the government is
working to enroll Syrian refugee children in catch-up education programs in
order to prepare them for schools in the coming years.

Fakhoury expressed appreciation for the international support to the
education sector, but he said the challenges in this sector remains,
especially financing the Ministry of Education's plan to cover the costs of
public education services for the Syrian refugee students. He indicated that
such cost is put at $1 billion for the 2016-2018 period.

Fakhoury also emphasized the importance of signing the joint decision
between Jordan and the EU on simplifying rules of origin to pave the way for
Jordanian products to benefit from customs exemptions and preferential terms
under the Jordan-EU Association Agreement.

In this regard, the minister said the government, through the Ministry of
Industry, Trade and Supply and the Investment Authority with the support of
the British Department for International Development (DFID) and the U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID), has implemented a project to
support and rehabilitate 20 Jordanian factories and linking them with a
number of European importers and distributors to help them export their
products to European markets.

He added that the project will be expanded to include a larger number of
factories to maximize the benefit from the decision on simplifying the rules
of origin.

The minister said the Kingdom has been working with a number of countries
and donors to expand this project soon and build on the outcome and success
of its first phase, in addition to expanding technical assistance to
companies to enable them meet European market's standards, hence increasing
exports.

He also noted that coordination was also underway with a number of partners
to hold forums and conferences designed to lure in foreign investments and
promote Jordanian products abroad.

While acknowledging that additional international support helped in covering
part of Jordan's needs last year, the minister indicated that financial,
economic and social hardships still persist underlining the need for
maintaining the momentum and continuity of such kind of support in 2017.

Fakhoury emphasized that extending more support is needed to maintain the
level of basic services provided to the Jordanian citizens and Syrian
refugees and safeguard the Kingdom's resilience and stability at these
exceptional times.

He said Jordan has "reached the point of saturation" when it comes to
holding the burden of Syrian refugees on behalf of the world. He added that
Jordan counts on a forthcoming conference to be held by the European Union
in the spring this year to pledge more support to the Kingdom.

British Ambassador in Amman, Edward Oakden, said London's 2016 conference
culminated with doubling international support to the Jordan Response Plan,
adding that the support reached unprecedented levels.

He added that his country had also stepped up its support to Jordan by more
than double and that means "tangible benefits for Jordanians". Oakden spoke
about the various forms of assistance his country provided to Jordan, noting
that the UK has been supporting initiatives that help youths find jobs.

EU ambassador in Amman Andrea Matteo Fontana said the bloc and its members
fulfilled ambitious commitments they made in London a year ago from now. In
2016, the ambassador noted, the EU pledged around $1.4 billion to Jordan,
including $1 billion in the form of grants.

The EU's and its members' pledges made up around 71 per cent of the total
value of commitments the international community made at the conference,
Fontana said, pledging that the EU will remain committed to supporting
Jordan to grapple with this major challenge and turn it into an opportunity
to strengthen the economy.

German Ambassador to Jordan, Birgitta Maria Siefker-Eberle, thank the
Kingdom for hosting more than 655,000 registered Syrian refugees and said
her country had fully fulfilled the $525 million pledge it made to Jordan in
2016.

Norwegian Ambassador in Amman, Sissel Breie, said: "After six years of the
Syrian crisis, the support extended to neighboring countries, that host the
majority of Syrian refugees, continues to be a main priority.....Norway has
pledged nearly $2.1 billion to Syria and neighboring countries at the London
conference, which makes us the fifth largest donor to the Syrian crisis."

She said more than a third of the Norwegian support was channeled to the
education sector. In this context, Breie thanked the ministry of education
for its tremendous efforts for the integration of all children in the formal
education system.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan and UNDP Resident
Representative at the UNDP Jordan Country Office, David McLachlan-Karr, said
the Jordanian government has introduced a series of concepts that are
changing the game in the response to the Syrian crisis.

He added: "The Jordan Response Plan acknowledges that the Syrian refugees
deserve a decent life and it recognizes the exorbitant price Jordan and its
citizens shoulder in order to provide such a global benefit so generously."

According to a statement distributed by the Embassy of Kuwait during the
press conference, the total value of pledges the Arab Gulf state made at
four donor conferences on Syria amounted to $1.6 billion, of which $1.4
billion had been already paid.

The statement said Kuwait was committed to fulfilling the remainder of
pledges it made to Jordan to help the Kingdom cope with the burden of Syrian
refugee crisis.

//Petra// AF, AA

13/2/2017 - 08:26:11 PM

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