Our Only Solution to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Tue 26 September / Sep 2017. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Tue 26 September / Sep 2017. 09:50 PM
  • Fahed Khitan

Year after another, the burden of refugee in Jordan increases, weighing down the economy and draining already limited resources.

As expected, the International Community’s commitment to host countries has lost a lot of momentum over the last few years.

So far, according to the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Emad Fakhouri, funding for the Syria Crises Response Plan has not exceeded 39 per cent, tops.

It is clear that the world has turned away from its commitments to the refuge crises in the region, backing down from the sums pledged, of which nearly a quarter goes directly to refugees.

The day before last, His Majesty King Abdullah II took it upon Himself to remind the world of how short they have fallen on their commitments to Jordan.

More so, He warned that this International failure will reflect negatively on the Jordanian citizen.

For the time being, it isn’t expected of Donor Countries to respond to the Jordanian appeal, nor will they increase responsiveness to the reginal Syrian refugee crisis.

Instead of lending a hand, most Donors are pushing to advance refugee employment mechanisms in host countries already suffering high unemployment rates.

Needless to say, what they want out of this is to excuse themselves the trouble of aid and support, and help settle Syrian refugees wherever they are in the region surrounding Syria.

As for the Syria reconstruction plans, which may help accelerate the return of refugees to Syria, this too is now hostage to the European’s attainable political demands, at least for now.

Abandoned to face the burdens of the refugee crisis on its own, Jordan must now prioritise the refugee issue.

Much needs to be done to secure the minimum requirements of the response plan.

A lot rides on this, and Jordan must pressure Donors into meeting their commitments, even if it means colliding with our own allies.

In short, the plan is to secure the return of as many refugees as possible, to the De-Escalation Zone in the South Syrian territory and other areas included in the ceasefire agreement.

In terms of security, Jordan has successfully secured its interests on the border with Syria, and has helped restore at least some tranquillity to the Syrians in the near-border areas.

All of this would not have been attainable were not for Jordan’s diplomacy and effectiveness in the negotiations for the Amman Accord.

It has helped stop the daily bloodshed there and made it relatively safer for Syrians to return.

However, the Accord has yet to reflect positively on the domestic situation, notably Refuge.

The first order of business in this regard is to accelerate the reopening of the Nusseib border crossing with Syria, to clear a path for returning refugees.

Of course, this entails direct communication between Syria and Jordan, in coordination with the two parties of the Accord: Russia and the US, to set a timeline for the refugee’s return.

For now, camps inside Syria would do, but in order to ensure the safety of returning refugees, we must guarantee safe passage for them, except for those involved in terrorism before seeking refuge in Jordan.

A lot of the Syrian refugees in Jordan come from border areas and rural villages, and their return will not cost the Syrian government or INGOs any additional allocations.

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition factions which are closely affiliated to Jordan are required to ease the task and help secure the return of refugees. This is the least they can do; they owe their own as much, given the price refugees have had to pay in this war!

As for Jordan, well there is no other choice.

Soon, the International Community will put the whole thing to bed, once and for all, and next year, the Donors’ response will fall to maybe half of what they’re offering now.

As support declines, the costs of refuge are increasing.

This cannot be delayed or postponed. Time is a luxury we do not have, and when we drown, no one will bat an eye thinking of how gracious and principled we were!

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.