Britain donates £30 million to help Syrian refugees in Jordan

Foreign Secretary says UK recognises pressures exacerbated by cut in UN aid

Syrian refugees draw at a centre in Amman. Photo: Khaled Yacoub Oweis
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British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Thursday announced a £30 million ($38 million) grant to help Jordan cope with the number of Syrian refugees in the country.

The UN food agency this month said it would reduce cash aid for 120,000 Syrian refugees living in the Zaatari and Azraq camps in Jordan, due to funding shortages.

After meeting Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi in Amman as his Middle East tour drew to a close, Mr Cleverly said the situation posed challenges to "Jordan's political and social infrastructure".

"We want to make sure that the pressure Jordan is facing for its generous hosting of refugees is recognised," Mr Cleverley said. "The UK has long been a long-term supporter.

"That support continues. I am announcing £30 million in new funding."

Mr Cleverly, who also met Jordan's King Abdullah, said the money would primarily go towards cash handouts to the refugees.

Jordan is home to 670,000 registered Syrian refugees and Britain, along with Germany and France, contributes significantly to help with funding, as well as paying for projects that benefit the Jordanian areas that host them.

The refugees fled their homes during a crackdown on the 2011 revolt against President Bashar Al Assad's 22-year rule, and in the ensuing Syrian civil war.

In 2014, Jordan closed its borders to the refugees, many of whom came from southern areas of Syria with established clan and other societal ties to relatives in Jordan.

In the past several years, Jordanian authorities embarked on a rapprochement effort with Mr Al Assad and officials in Amman said they were working for an Arab solution to the civil war.

Mr Cleverly did not comment on Jordan's ties with Mr Al Assad.

But Britain, along with other western powers, opposes re-establishing diplomatic ties with the regime in Damascus, which they regard responsible for initiating the bloodshed in Syria.

The Foreign Secretary said the "ultimate best way to resolve this refugee-hosting challenge" is make Syria safe for their return.

Jordan was created as a British protectorate in 1921. In 1946, it was granted independence.

Amman was the last stop in a three-day Middle East tour by Mr Cleverly, which took him to Kuwait and Qatar, where he focused on military and business ties with the two countries.

Updated: July 27, 2023, 5:39 PM