The international community must go further and faster in delivering on pledges made at the London Syria Conference.
Speaking at the close of a 3-day trip to Jordan and Lebanon, her first overseas visit in her new role, Priti Patel welcomed progress already made but called on donors to maintain momentum in creating at least 1 million jobs for Syrian refugees and to provide an education for every child affected by the conflict.
Ms Patel also encouraged partners to make good on the record-breaking financial commitments made at the conference in February.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:
It was important for me to visit Jordan and Lebanon as my first overseas visit in my new role which underlines the UK’s commitment to both countries as an outward-looking nation playing its part on the world stage.
The UK continues to be at the forefront of dealing with the Syrian crisis which, in addition to the appalling human costs, continues to destabilise the wider region and hold back the potential for security, prosperity and economic growth.
Working with our partners in the region, we are developing and driving the radical jobs and education agenda agreed at the Syria Conferencewhich will help to improve the lives of vulnerable refugees but is also firmly in the national interest.
In Jordan, Ms Patel visited Za’atari refugee camp, where she saw first-hand how UK-funded programmes are delivering education and healthcare for the camp’s residents.
She went on to ad-Dulayl Industrial Park to see the benefits of the Jordan-EU trade agreement coming out of the Syria Conference, which will boost the Jordanian economy and generate jobs for both Syrian refugees and Jordanians alike. She held positive meetings with Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki and Minister of Planning and International Development Imad Fakhoury amongst other key officials.
In Lebanon, Ms Patel visited an informal tented settlement in the Bekaa Valley and a local school providing non-formal education, accompanied by Education Minister Elias Bou Saab.
She also visited the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, an international initiative supported by the British government aimed at supporting Lebanon’s knowledge economy and growth. During the visit, she also met Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
The London Conference on Syria and the region, co-hosted by the UK, saw in excess of $12 billion (around £9.1 billion) pledged by the international community – more than has ever been committed for a humanitarian crisis in a single day.
In the 6 months since the conference took place, UK and international progress includes:
- the EU and Jordan negotiating a trade deal, supported by the UK and other co-hosts, allowing Jordanian exports easier access to the EU market. This is available to producers in 18 specified industrial areas and development zones in exchange for providing jobs to a minimum percentage of Syrian refugees
- ongoing work with the government of Lebanon (GoL) to promote job creation for all, including working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the World Bank to design a programme to provide grants to SMEs so that they can expand and create new jobs for all communities in Lebanon affected by this crisis. A pilot is set to launch in January 2017
- expanding UK support to Lebanon’s municipalities – to fund much-needed new infrastructure projects and thereby create many more new jobs. We are currently working in 49 of the most vulnerable municipalities
- the Jordanian government issuing more than 20,000 work permits to Syrians in the past few months and recently granting a 3-month extension of the grace period during which applicants have their fees waived when applying for a permit
- the UK working closely with the UN, other donors and refugee hosting countries to agree and implement the financial and delivery plans necessary to increase access to formal and non-formal education, in preparation for a push on enrolment for the new 2016/17 school year
- GoL developing its ambitious RACE (Reaching All Children with Education) II plan and the UK committing up to £40 million a year for the next 4 years to support the delivery of high quality inclusive education for Lebanese and refugee children. Last year, Lebanon reached 200,000 Syrian refugees with formal education and now plans to build on this to reach all out-of-school refugee and Lebanese children in the country with quality formal and non-formal education, while improving education quality and governance at all levels
- the UK providing an £80 million loan for the World Bank to support the development and running of the Special Economic Zones in Jordan
- the UK also providing a £30 million grant to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to improve overstretched infrastructure in refugee-hosting cities and provide refugees with training, work-based learning opportunities and routes into jobs in Jordan
- as of 28 July, donors allocating $4.2 billion (around £3.2 billion) in humanitarian funding already this year, according to UN figures.