More international support needed for Jordan to cope with Syrian refugees, says UN development chief

11 Apr 2013

image A woman and child at Za’atri refugee camp, host to tens of thousands of Syrians displaced by conflict, near Mafraq, Jordan. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Amman, Jordan — Greater international support is needed for countries currently absorbing increasing waves of refugees fleeing Syria, including Jordan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said yesterday as she wrapped up a four-day visit to Jordan.

The deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Syria has forced thousands of Syrians to flee and seek refuge in neighbouring countries, with Jordan alone currently hosting nearly half a million internationally displaced persons (IDPs) from Syria, according to news reports.

“Jordan is suffering a crisis clearly caused by the spillover of the very tragic events in Syria,” said Helen Clark, who met with HM Queen Rania and a range of Jordan senior officials, women leaders, activists, donors and the UN Country Team there. “As the international community addresses the significant needs of the refugees, I think it is important that Jordan’s particular circumstances are also taken into account.”

More than 1.3 million Syrian refugees have crossed borders into Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey since conflict erupted. The number could exceed four million by the end of the year, the UN Refugee Agency announced this week. Since the beginning of the year, 1,500 to 2,000 Syrians have been pouring into Jordan daily.

“The refugee flow is very, very significant and we acknowledge not only Jordan’s generosity in keeping its border open but also the considerable strain on its host communities for jobs, energy, water, health and education services,” Helen Clark said.

This large influx of refugees into Jordan is putting a considerable burden on local Jordanian host communities, and their social and economic services.

“As some agencies like UNHCR and UNICEF focus on the Syrian refugees, others, including UNDP, are looking at how we can help alleviate pressure on the host communities who are under strain as well,” Helen Clark said. “This is a crisis that is not only affecting Syria but clearly its neighbours too.”

During her visit, Helen Clark met with Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour to discuss how UNDP can support these host communities in Jordan and increase their ability to not only absorb the influx of refugees but also to mitigate any possible tensions between the refugees and the host communities through support to basic social services and job creation for Jordanian youth. 

The Prime Minister also briefed  Helen Clark on the proposed reform programme and potential UNDP support.
 
“This is a very substantial reform programme,” said Helen Clark. “Should this programme be approved, we are there for Jordan across the wide range of areas UNDP works in, including governance and political development reform, decentralization and poverty reduction.”

Helen Clark was in Jordan to attend the Arab Development Forum and a key UNDP regional meeting of its country-level offices in the Arab States.

See Helen Clark’s full remarks and press release from the Arab Development Forum.

Contact Information

Christina LoNigro, Tel.: +1 212 906 5301; christina.lonigro@undp.org