As part of the Region Ministerial Meeting at the Fourth Brussels Conference on 30 June 2020, and on behalf of the Jordan INGO Forum (JIF) and the Jordan National NGO Forum (JONAF), Dr. Yusuf Mansur – the Director of ARDD’s Al Nahda Research Center – represented the Kingdom of Jordan as the Jordan Civil Society Rapporteur. In a pre-recorded message, it was stressed that there must be adequate levels of international assistance to meet the many challenges Jordan is facing and support the Kingdom in meeting the commitments made alongside the international community over the last several years. This was of course framed within the context of reaffirming the need for continued follow-up and engagement with civil society and incorporating a variety of voices and perspectives as integral to the broader response.
Following is the message’s text
Dr. Yusuf Mansur – Intervention Rapporteur on behalf of the Jordan Civil Society
Your excellencies, esteemed ministers, and distinguished guests, thank you for the opportunity to represent the Kingdom of Jordan as the Jordan Civil Society Rapporteur for this ministerial meeting. I am sincerely grateful for your leadership in organizing this important discussion about the humanitarian situation and the needs of Syrian refugees both in Syria and throughout the region.
The refugee response in Jordan has reached a critical point over nine years into the Syrian conflict as the Kingdom has come to host more than 650,000 Syrian refugees. While the conditions of displacement have had an irrevocable impact on the opportunities and prospects for Syrian refugees, the Kingdom of Jordan and the international community have endeavored to prioritise both the immediate and long-term needs of Syrian refugees and host communities and support their resilience over the last several years.
In order to preserve the successes Jordan has attained, the international community must invest not only in health services and basic needs support within the response, but also in a longer-term commitment to support economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic and the new challenges that have accompanied the situation. Funding and programming must adapt in order to support strategic planning and address protection and livelihood needs, as well as empower national and local stakeholders.
It is essential that Jordan continues to receive support in setting a regional example on refugee policy. There must be adequate levels of international assistance to meet the many challenges Jordan is facing and support the Kingdom in meeting the commitments made alongside the international community over the last several years. Continued follow-up and engagement with civil society to address these ongoing needs and incorporate a variety of voices and perspectives is a cross-cutting theme that is integral to the broader response.
In particular, while Jordan has piloted innovative approaches to address the protection and assistance concerns of Syrian refugees alongside host communities, international support is critical at the current moment as the Kingdom has been impacted by the current health crisis brought on by COVID-19 that is expected to have an unprecedented effect on the global economy. Jordan—like other states—is entering a challenging period as it faces the difficult task of balancing the health risks created by COVID-19 against the economic pressures the pandemic has caused. The loss of household incomes has impacted Syrian refugees particularly hard as approximately 60 percent of the informal sector is comprised of Syrian refugees, many of whom have lost employment opportunities as a result of the current restrictions on movement. Economic vulnerability is expected to increase among refugee communities and the poorest segments of society in Jordan, as well as reliance on negative coping mechanisms and protection concerns. The protection and personal rights of women and girls remain a priority to address gender-based discrimination and violence, particularly in the wake of the pandemic that has exacerbated an already precarious protection situation due to current barriers to seeking assistance in person. We therefore must work to minimize the negative socioeconomic and protection repercussions of COVID-19 as much as possible for vulnerable communities.
In considering these challenges, we must acknowledge and prioritize the role of civil society in the response in Jordan and the broader region. Both local and international civil society organizations are essential resources within the Syria response and their expertise and knowledge must be integrated throughout interventions in protection, education, livelihoods, and health.
There are opportunities to better engage with and improve the participation of national civil society organizations, particularly through support to national stakeholders in the transition to the humanitarian-development nexus agenda, and on improved and long-term planning for a refugee-centered response in host communities.
In this regard, we must work towards fulfilling the Grand Bargain commitments to ensure sustainable ownership at the community level, which was recognized in the Jordan Response Plan through linkages to the SDGs and through prioritizing consultations with civil society. However, while there has been significant progress regionally in incorporating and harnessing the capabilities of civil society, there is still room for greater engagement and participation. In Jordan in particular, the level of funding for national NGOs remains low and greater efforts must be developed to monitor progress on localization not only to track direct funding to local civil society, but also to lay the foundation for platforms that allow for greater local engagement and participation.
Furthermore, as the Syrian conflict continues unabated and the need for political dialogue to bring an end the crisis is essential, we all have a role to play in safeguarding the welfare and livelihoods of Syrian refugees in Jordan and the region at large. We must prioritize adequate support to host countries and sustainable ownership at the community level in order to face these existing challenges and support vulnerable communities’ self-reliance and resilience.
And because humanitarian needs will shrink decisively when and where sustainable development achieved as rightly noted by Helen Clark the Administrator of the UNDP we must work to bolster the levels of self-resilience and self-reliance of vulnerable communities.
Thank you all for your patience, I wish you all a very good and fruitful discussion