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New responsibility-sharing paradigms

Mar 25,2017 - Last updated at Mar 25,2017

In this era of mass migration, the world is facing a crisis of unequalled proportions, one that is testing the response capacities of numerous nations and demanding new paradigms of responsibility and fair burden sharing.

Since its onset in 2011, the Syria crisis has become the defining human rights issue of our time, not only due to the sheer humanitarian costs involved, but also due to the fragmented response of the international community.

Six years into the crisis, Jordan continues to meet its moral obligations, bearing more than its fair share of the response and exhausting its absorptive capacities to meet the short- and long-term needs of those seeking refuge within its borders.

Today, Jordan hosts around 1.3 million Syrians, constituting nearly 20 per cent of the Jordanian population and placing considerable strain on our socioeconomic foundations.

The influx of refugees has become the foremost challenge facing the Kingdom, undermining decades of hard-earned developmental gains and exhausting what little resources are available to its people.

Mitigating this challenge can only work under the premise that Jordan is doing a public good on behalf of the international community.

The government has set a remarkable example in its response to this complex and protracted crisis, taking a bold and innovative initiative to bring together humanitarian and development programming under a common, nationally led and resilience-based framework.

The first result of this approach was the 2015 Jordan Response Plan (JRP), which successfully laid the groundwork for a series of achievements that allowed the Kingdom to withstand the devastating impact of the crisis.

This holistic approach was further developed in the JRP 2016-2018, which adopted a three-year rolling framework that is more equipped to deal with the protracted nature of the crisis.

The plan was developed in full partnership with donors, UN agencies and international organisations, outlining a coherent and sequenced response to the multifaceted impact of the crisis and building on the findings of a comprehensive vulnerability assessment prepared in close collaboration with the international community.

Today, we are presenting the international community with the second iteration of this rolling plan — JRP 2017-2019 — which continues to outline the unmet needs of refugees within Jordan’s borders and those of the communities hosting them, as well as costs being incurred by the government.

Despite Jordan’s steadfast efforts, funding shortfalls continue to pose the largest obstacle to this collective response. 

Although 2016 marked a significant increase in secured funding for the JRP, which reached 61.46 per cent, compared to an average of 33 per cent for prior years, close to 40 per cent of the needs in 2016 remained unfunded.

This was the fifth consecutive year in which funding shortfalls compromised the government’s response to the Syria crisis, which constitutes a glaring sign for the international community to further increase its grant funding to JRP.

Safeguarding the fair sharing of responsibility continues to prove a staggering challenge for the global community, despite the fact that only 10 per cent of the world’s official development assistance is sufficient to meet the response requirements of the entire region.

In its ongoing efforts to further improve its holistic response to the impact of the Syria crisis, Jordan took yet another pioneering initiative by signing the Jordan Compact during the 2016 “Supporting Syria and the Region” conference in London.

Through the Jordan Compact, the government sought to transform the refugee crisis into a development opportunity that attracts new investment and opens up the EU market with simplified rules of origin, thus creating jobs for both Jordanians and for Syrian refugees in a complementary, non-competitive manner to Jordanian job creation.

Jordan is already providing public education services to 90 per cent of registered Syrian children and has also been working hard to mobilise sufficient resources to provide educational catch-up programmes to a remaining 25,000 Syrian children by the 2016/2017 school year.

Recognising the need to continue strengthening the management of the plan, JRP 2017-2019 also addresses the need to further capacitate line ministries and task forces to ensure that they have the full ability to engage in sector-wide multi-stakeholder planning, with greater alignment to government policies and systems.

The plan has also been designed under the overall framework set by the Jordan Vision 2025 and in alignment and coordination with the main national plans and strategies, such as the Executive Development Programme, the Governorates Development Programmes and the Jordan Compact, and in a manner that creates complementarity and avoids duplication.

Moreover, Jordan’s commitment to ensuring the accuracy and transparency of its response to the Syria crisis led to the creation of JORISS — a comprehensive data-management system conceived to help upload, approve, track and report on the various projects within the JRP.

As the JRP is predicated on reinforcing solidarity and pursuing a credible transition from emergency to longer-term sustainability and resilience, the government has taken bold steps over the last 12 months to improve aid coordination, increase transparency and strengthen accountability as a means of increasing overall aid effectiveness.

It is critical to note that Jordan has reached its maximum absorptive capacity, with no fiscal space remaining. 

Between the Kingdom’s evanescing resources, existing socioeconomic and geopolitical challenges and the IMF’s new Extended Fund Facility, funding shortfalls will severely compromise the government’s ability to continue providing services to Syrians while safeguarding the country’s hard-earned developmental gains.

Given this state of urgency, I call upon all donors to continue investing in the Jordanian model to ensure the long-term success of this paradigm shift.

Support should take the form of additional grants to sufficiently fund the JRP, with a focus on rebuilding the needs of host communities nationwide, in addition to increased budget support grants, given the lack of any remaining fiscal space.

The international community should also work towards securing additional concessionary financing for middle-income countries affected by neighbouring conflicts and building on the Concessional Financing Facility that Jordan pioneered in partnership with the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and donor countries.

Last but not least, the international community should consider debt reduction and swap mechanisms as a means for host governments to increase fiscal space.

It is also critical for donors to note that additional assistance must take into consideration the precipitating factors that determine the carrying capacity and exacerbate the burden shouldered by host countries, such as the availability of natural and physical resources, the accumulative number of refugees hosted due to prior conflicts, the proportion of refugees to the local population, the distribution of refugees in and out of camps, the income level of the country and the limit to which its absorptive capacity is stretched.

Any assistance provided should not only cover needs moving forward but also take into consideration accumulated funding gaps of prior years.

We are at a moment of critical opportunity and must collectively deliver on the promise of the Jordan Compact and JRP 2017-2019.

I call upon our partners, UN agencies, the donor community and NGOs to support Jordan as it continues to forge a new model of response capable of meeting immediate needs while also safeguarding human development and fostering resilience to future shocks.

I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to our partners for their tireless efforts and invaluable support over the past year, particularly line ministries, UN agencies, the donor community and NGOs. 

I also wish to extend my gratitude to the United Nations, MOPIC’s Humanitarian Relief Coordination Unit and the JRPSC Secretariat for their efforts to develop a cohesive, comprehensive response plan.

 

 

The writer is minister of planning and international cooperation. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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