Pricing humanitarianism: Syrian refugees scapegoated for Jordan's economic troubles
The total cost of hosting Syrian refugees on Jordan’s economy is estimated at around $1.7 billion, amid dim hope of an immediate solution to the 31-month-old Syrian conflict, a senior official has said.
During a seminar on Tuesday at Al Rai Centre for Research, Planning Minister Ibrahim Saif said an assessment has been conducted on the cost of hosting Syrian refugees on the national economy, covering operational expenditures and refugee-related capital projects.
Saif said the total cost of operational expenditures on Syrian refugees, including municipal services, security, health, water and others, is estimated at $670 million.
The cost of capital projects that need to be implemented to integrate Syrian refugees for a three- to five-year stay is estimated at around $870 million.
“We never talked about the cost of refugee-related capital projects when making a calculation of the refugee bill,” Saif said.
“But with seemingly no immediate solution to the Syrian crisis, such an aspect needs to be factored in,” he noted.
The minister said the number of registered Syrian refugees in the Kingdom has reached 596,000, of whom only 234,000 live in refugee camps, while there are 300,000 to 400,000 unregistered refugees.
He added that 78,000 Syrian children have been admitted to public schools in the first semester of the 2013 scholastic year, adding that there are 60,000 to 70,000 Syrians now working in the local market.
“The heavy presence of Syrians in the local market is the direct reason behind the increase in unemployment rates this year,” Saif said.
The minister also explained that the other financial losses Jordan incurred as a result of the Syrian crisis, including the disruption of exports to Syria and through Syria to other countries, have not been calculated in the $1.7 billion.
Before the Syrian crisis in March 2011, Saif said, Jordan used to be part of a “combined tour package”, in addition to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.
Jordan has now lost many investments as a result of the Syrian crisis, he added, citing investors’ reluctance and fear to come to the turbulent region.
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