The World Bank (WB) on Sunday announced a $100 million interest-free loan to Jordan to provide job opportunities for 100,000 Jordanians and Syrians, as part of a larger package of assistance to help the country address the refugee crisis through development-oriented solutions.
Also on Sunday, His Majesty King Abdullah met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and WB Group President Jim Yong Kim, who announced the international aid plan tailored for Jordan, and exchanged views on how to enhance Jordan's capabilities to face the mounting burdens ensuing from the Syrian refugee influx.
The concessional loan will be extended to Jordan despite the fact that the Kingdom is not eligible to obtain such loans as an upper-middle income country, but the exception was made as an extraordinary measure to cope up with the impact of the refugee challenge, said Kim.
WB chief made the announcement at a joint press conference with the UN secretary general, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Judeh and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury during a joint visit by the two international figures to Jordan.
“For the first time in history, we take money designated solely for the poorest countries, and give it to an upper-middle income country, because Jordan has taken extraordinary measure,” the WB chief told the press.
Kim explained that this is a completely new approach, through which “we take grants from donors … and blend them in loans to be paid over a long period at a zero percentage interest.
“We will use that to create 100,000 jobs.” Even after the Syrian refugees return to Syria, this will be a job generator for Jordanians and a driver for future growth.
“We are not doing this only to respond to the Syrian crisis; we are … taking extraordinary measures to show Jordan how much the world appreciates what is being done to the refugees”, Kim explained.
In addition, he noted that the bank is raising a billion dollar from donors and then adding to that $3 billion to $4 billion of loan money once again, at a zero per cent interest and long payback period so that “we can help Jordan go through reforms that it has been already committed to…like developing the business environment [and] improving the educational system”.
Meanwhile, Fakhoury said Jordan is doing a global public good while hosting the highest ratio of refugees compared to population.
He added that both guests stressed that they will work closely with the international community to meet their obligations to Jordan.
In addition to the $100 million concessional loan, Jordan works with the WB on another “development policy loan” as a concessional loan with an amount of $250 million and on the implementation of London conference results with another concessional loan that ranges between $300 million to $400 million to support the implementation of Jordan Compact, which lists pledges made to Jordan at London donor conference in February.
Fakhoury also noted that the Kingdom currently works with the WB to draft the “Country Partnership Framework” for the 2017-2022 cycle to support Jordan’s development programmes in three pillars: enhancing economic resilience, finding opportunities to improve competitiveness and reducing poverty.
Speaking at the conference, Ban expressed his appreciation for Jordan for hosting Syrian refugees.
He also underscored the importance of the peace and stability in the region, noting that “the peace and stability [of the region] have a great implication” on the entire world.
Addressing the conference, Judeh said the visit of the two leaders is an indicator of political support to Jordan and shows the understanding of these two institutions of the burden that Jordan is shouldering on behalf of the world.
Prior to the presser, according to Judeh, talks with Ban and Kim focussed on permanent cessation of hostilities in Syria, efforts to combat terrorism, and the peace process that is considered a main concern for Jordan.
At the King’s meeting with the two international officials , attended by Her Majesty Queen Rania, King Abdullah urged the international community’s economic and humanitarian institutions to intensify their efforts to help address the challenges Jordan faces as a result of hosting some 1.3 million Syrian refugees.
The meeting, held at Al Husseiniya Palace, also tackled ways to build on the London donor conference’s recommendations, and highlighted the importance of supporting countries affected by the Syrian refugee crisis, according to a Royal Court statement.
The King and two officials discussed the latest developments in the region, especially in Syria, and regional and international efforts to combat extremism and terrorism.
On peace endeavours in the region, they stressed the importance of stepping up efforts aimed at resuming the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis, based on the two-state solution and international legitimacy resolutions.
The trilateral meeting also reviewed means for the WB to help Jordan implement its national economic and development programmes, as King Abdullah highlighted the Kingdom’s reform process, especially in the economic field.
During the meeting with Ensour, Ban said the UN works with Jordan to support the Jordan Response Plan and stressed the importance of taking advantage of available opportunities to achieve peace in Syria.
The WB and UN chiefs also visited the Zaatari Refugee Camp to have a first-hand look at the conditions and needs of the refugees hosted there. During the tour, Ban highlighted the UN’s continuous support to Jordan to minimise the burdens it is shouldering.
For his part, Kim reiterated the bank’s support for Jordan’s development programmes and improvement of services offered to the public.
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