On Obligations to Refugees, “Jordan cannot be taken for granted” — Fakhouri Says

Jordan Attends “World Humanitarian Summit”

تم نشره في Wed 25 May / May 2016. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Wed 25 May / May 2016. 07:05 PM
  • Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Emad Fakhouri - (Archives)

AMMAN —Al Ghad— The Jordan Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Emad Fakhouri, stated while in delegating for Jordan at the World Humanitarian Summit convened in Istanbul, Turkey, May 23rd through 24th, 2016, that Jordan’s commitment to obligations towards Syrian refugees is not something to be taken for-granted, or presumed as-is given the shrinking scale of aid and support provisioned to Jordan by the International Community, calling upon donor countries to rethink their approach and views, and revaluate the situation, in this respect.

On the side lines of the conference initiated by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon; Minister Fakhouri met with delegates of present London Donor countries, as well as the Director of the World Labour Organisation (WLO) and the German Envoy to the support of stability in the Middle East, next to other delegating officials, and deliberated ways to develop stronger frameworks to support humanitarian aid and host countries, among other issues related.

Following is the Ministry’s Speech —Jordan’s Statement— delivered by Minister Fakhoury:

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of His Majesty King Abdullah II, I would like to extend a special thanks to the United Nations and to the Government of Turkey for organizing and hosting this Summit, which serves as an important platform for re-inspiring and reinvigorating our commitment to humanity and to the universality of humanitarian principles, thus demonstrating our sincere desire for global unity and solidarity in the face of human suffering.

We are part of a global community that generates nearly 78 trillion dollars in GDPs and over 160 billion dollars in official development assistance, which means that we have the collective resources to meet the basic needs of the vulnerable and contribute to safeguard human dignity. Yet, the burden is not fairly shared. We are also living in a new age of unprecedented mass displacement. This is a new global reality. 60 million displaced people worldwide is not a temporary humanitarian crisis; this is a crisis of human development. This new reality presents a challenge on a whole new scale for development and humanitarian agencies as well as international community; one that requires a paradigm shift in perspective and mindset.

Last week marked the 68th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, and yet we are still seeking lasting solution to the Palestinian Israeli conflict which contributes to the various crises impacting the Middle East. Addressing the Palestinian issue is a prerequisite to sustainable peace and prosperity, not only for the Middle East but for the entire world. Moreover, donor fatigue and diminishing support for UNRWA are simply unacceptable as they are fueling the flames of this far-reaching crisis. At the same time, the world must come together to provide real and short-term solutions to resolve conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya and end the suffering in these countries.

I stand before you, representing Jordan – a small country with limited natural resources, and yet one that has consistently served as a forerunner when it comes to embracing the vulnerable and sharing its scarce resources with those fleeing conflict. Jordan, a country with the highest record of hosted registered refugees in history (2.8 refugees registered with UNRWA and UNHCR), has been doing its share in terms of contributing to peace and security and in an unprecedented manner.

For decades, my country has always done the right thing by those who sought its borders for refuge. We have been working tirelessly with all partners to peaceful resolutions in conflict countries in the region that meets aspirations of all components of people and safeguards territorial integrity and political independence.

Today, we find ourselves in the throes of a protracted crisis that has pushed our absorptive capacity to its limits. The Syrian crisis, now in its sixth year, is by far the most tragic humanitarian crisis of our time. It’s the world largest producer and host of forced displacement that resulted in 4.8 million Syrian refugees have been streaming into neighbouring host countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, whom have been carrying out a critical global public good on behalf of the region and the world.

We all recognize that the Syrian crisis is a global crisis that cannot be dealt with on a typical crisis management approach, where in our interconnected world means a crisis in one place is a crisis in all places. It is also a crisis that presents a serious national resilience issue especially for hosting countries.

Jordan over the past five years has been facing a slow-motion Tsunami, which resulted in growing needs, regressing hard-earned development gains, increased public debt, and is impacting the country’s sustainable development path. Jordan is currently hosting about 1.3 million Syrian refugees. Refugee communities are becoming increasingly vulnerable. About 92 percent of Syrian refugees are living in Jordan’s cities, towns and villages exhausting existing social and physical infrastructure. This has put further pressure on our economy and stretched social cohesion in our host communities.

To deal with the impact of the refugee crisis, the Government of Jordan has pioneered a resilience based approach by linking humanitarian and development needs in its response to the Syrian crisis and thus developed the Jordan Response Plans (currently cover the period 2016-2018) based on a comprehensive vulnerability assessment conducted in partnership with the UN and the international community. Unfortunately, while Jordan has continued to shoulder its commitments toward refugees, the current levels of financing provided by the international community are still not enough to meet urgent needs of refugees and host communities alike – a clear sign that we are unable to act together to promptly respond to this crisis. Our response plans at best are one third funded; indicating that for the fifth consecutive year, two thirds of needs at a minimum remain unfunded.

The existing situation called for a paradigm shift; one that meets this protracted crisis with a sustainable solution and focuses on growth and investment whilst maintaining resilience and economic stability. In this respect, Jordan and its partners at the recent Supporting Syria and the Region Conference held in London in February proposed a holistic approach as a paradigm shift that moves us from mainly a refugee response to a resilience-based comprehensive framework that bridges the divide between short-term refugee and long-term development responses. Hence the Jordan Compact was adopted focusing on four pillars:

- Turning the Syrian refugee crisis into a development opportunity that attracts new investments and opens up the EU market with simplified rules of origin, creating jobs for Jordanians and Syrian refugees in a complimentary manner that does not displace Jordanian job opportunities whilst supporting the post-conflict Syrian economy;

- Rebuilding our host communities by adequately financing the Jordan Response Plan in a manner that helps in maintaining the level of basic services at improved rather than regressing levels and to ensure that no one is left behind;

 - Mobilizing sufficient resources to the education to accommodate additional 50,000 Syrian children in the next school year, to be followed by another 30,000 children in the following couple of years stemming from our strong belief that a lost generation of Syrian children will not only cause social tensions in Jordan but also prevent these children playing a full role in a post conflict Syria.

- Supporting the macroeconomic framework and addressing Jordan’s financing needs as part of Jordan entering into a new program with the IMF.

The London Conference marked yet another major milestone in shaping the international community’s response to the Syrian crisis. Jordan started delivering on its commitments of the Jordan Compact, yet our capacity to implement is proportional to the resources the international community will provide especially to host communities, and in proportion of international community fulfilling their side of commitments under the Compact. This must be delivered in full coordinated partnership in priority areas we identified together to ensure long term success of this paradigm shift of relevance to the entire world.

The key is to invest successfully and with sufficient resources in Jordan model and its Jordan Compact, both sufficient grants to rebuild host communities needs in addition to budget support grants and extremely concessionary financing through translating pledges to actual time-bound predictable disbursements into must do priority areas by a departure from business as usual of donors to more coordinated joined up approach that integrates resources and scales them up and provides economies of scale and bigger efficiency, effectiveness and impact.

Failing this, we will inevitably lose this unique transformational opportunity that the Compact provides as a new model for dealing with forced displacement a model relevant to 60 million displaced people around the world. Jordan cannot be taken for granted given its goodwill and for being good at managing crises and as a historic safe haven and oasis of stability in a turbulent region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My hope is that we can avoid retreading familiar grounds and make a concerted effort to move from speeches to actions, creating a fair, reciprocal and most importantly realistic aid framework that safeguards the futures of all nations impacted by this crisis and changing the traditional model for vulnerable middle income countries (like Jordan and Lebanon) affected by crises and providing innovative financing schemes, as we have recently seen with the launch of the Concessional Financing Facility. The launch of this facility demonstrates a step forward towards solidarity and collective action and fair burden sharing to assist middle-income countries affected by protracted crisis and in a manner that bridges the humanitarian and development divide.

The Agenda for Humanity, with its five core responsibilities that we are committing ourselves to, encompasses the ingredients and requirements for success in tackling humanitarian challenges. My hope is that it will help us bridge the widening gap between theory and practice.

Thank you...