JRP for the Syria crisis reports funding issues amid pandemic complications

Zaatari refugee camp, 10km east of Mafraq, on June 4, 2014. (Photo: Flickr)
AMMAN — On December 1, EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi announced a 164 million euro-grant to Jordan, 80 million euros of which are earmarked towards Jordan Response Plan (JRP) for the Syria Crisis to alleviate the burden of hosting Syrian refugees on Jordan’s economy, further strained by the COVID-pandemicاضافة اعلان

Combined data from the UNHCR and the Ministry of Health show that 33 percent of refugees outside Syrian refugee camps in Jordan have received the two shots of the COVID vaccine, while 54 percent of refugees inside camps have taken the two doses, according to UNHCR spokesperson Lilly Carlisle.

The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation’s quarterly report, released early November, showed that the area of healthcare in the JRP received only 51 percent of its targeted funds, water and hygiene received approximately 40 percent of its funding needs, and the area of energy received the lowest percentage of funding, coming in at a measly 18 percent.

Moreover, the report states that Jordan had requested $240,626,050 for COVID-related funding for Syrian refugees, but the ministry received only $9,950,037, whereas Jordan’s efforts since the start of the pandemic involved provision of hygiene kits, masks, and other essential medical equipment for the Syrian refugee camps. 

Any future JRP must take into account that the Syrian refugee crisis may not necessarily end any time soon, particularly when noting the UNHCR’s position “that the situation in Syria at present is too unsafe to enable a plan for their return,” a crisis made more complex with the outbreak of COVID-19.

The quarterly report shows that the most notable funders who invest in the essential needs of the JRP are foreign countries, including supranational organizations like the EU. No international organizations are mentioned as being prominent funders for the JRP, according to the report. Germany is the biggest funder, as it has invested a total of $156,583,117 into the response plan, as of November 3, 2021. 

Carlisle also told Jordan News that it is important to keep in mind that “the JRP doesn’t record development funding, and that it only records humanitarian funding”. This means that there are certain types of funding for refugees that the JRP does not explicitly mention, making it an important consideration when evaluating the funding situation for the crisis.

Refugees with disabilities are facing especially daunting challenges, Carlisle noted, since their situation often puts them in a position of struggling “to find a job and become self-reliant”. They are among a section of the Syrian population residing in Jordan that will most likely need additional humanitarian aid for years to come. However, Carlisle also clarified that “a majority of the refugee population has been self-reliant”.

According to the official document of the JRP for the years 2020–2022, compiled by the Ministry of Planning, almost every single sector that the plan aims to address when it comes to the refugee crisis is underfunded.

For instance, the plan aimed to raise around JD712 million for Syrian refugee-related funding to be invested in Jordan, but ended up receiving funding worth JD500 million — a 30 percent funding shortfall.

When it comes to devising the next JRP, the Ministry of Planning intends to set its focus on the financial impact of the crisis on the Treasury, especially after extensive government efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus throughout in the largest refugee camps, like the Zaatari camp. Additionally, the plan aims to strengthen online education and expand schools to accommodate increasing numbers of refugees.

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