Jordan seeks UK help to meet needs of Syrian refugees

Britain faces questions over impact of its foreign aid cuts

FILE - In this Aug. 4, 2016 file photo, people gather to take basic food stuffs and other aid from community leaders charged with distributing equitably the supplies to the 64,000-person refugee camp called Ruqban on the Jordan-Syria border. Statements issued by the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said their joint convoy reached Rukban camp and would deliver assistance to 50,000 people The convoy was supposed to arrive last week but was delayed due to logistics and security concerns. The U.N. said the operation is expected to take three to four days. (AP Photo/File)
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The UK is under pressure from Jordan to step up its funding for Syrian refugees as charity donations dry up during the pandemic.

Amman’s ambassador in London, Omar Al Nahar, said 261,000 Syrians in his country faced cuts in humanitarian assistance by September.

The appeal to Britain comes with the UK government under pressure over cuts to its aid budget.

Mr Al Nahar said the World Food Programme was poised to cut assistance to Jordan, and that Unicef was struggling to carry out water and sanitation work.

The WFP said this month that it was $58 million short of the funds it needed to continue food assistance.

It is feared Unicef services could be shut down completely by September if further donations fail to come through.

Jordan hosts more than half a million refugees and the cuts are “undermining public health and security” in migrant camps, the ambassador said.

“Further donations are required as a matter of urgency,” he said in a letter to Sarah Champion, the chairwoman of the UK Parliament’s International Development Committee.

“Without these additional resources and the full commitment of the International Community, many more refugees will be impacted.”

The UK should “review its financial support” of the humanitarian agencies affected by the funding cuts, he said.

UK aid cuts

Ms Champion, a member the opposition Labour Party, is seeking answers on the issue from UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

She is demanding to know whether the UK’s aid cuts will affect the refugees living in Jordan, most of whom are from Syria.

Britain announced in November that it was setting aside its target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid.

The commitment was reduced to 0.5 per cent in a cut ministers blamed on the financial pressures of the pandemic.

The government said the reduction was temporary and the 0.7 per cent threshold would be restored when the financial situation improves.

The move has been criticised by former UK prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair.

Updated: June 29, 2021, 4:50 PM