UK to double support for Jordan over next five years

Jordan's King Abdullah speaks at the Jordan Growth and Opportunity Conference on February 28, 2019 in London.
Updated 09 March 2019

UK to double support for Jordan over next five years

  • In an interview with Arab News, UK Minister of State for the Middle East Alistair Burt says Jordan is meeting economic challenges
  • Finance pledges ‘can provide more’ for education and employment for the people of Jordan

LONDON: Britain on Thursday doubled its bilateral support funding to Jordan, pledging £650 million ($860 million) over five years.

The UK government hosted a ministerial conference to promote growth and investment opportunities in Jordan, inviting a host of senior financial representatives, non-profit organizations and several business and economic delegations from around the world.

The conference fulfills a pledge by Prime Minister Theresa May in 2017 to encourage the partnership between the United Kingdom and Jordan, according to the UK Minister of State for the Middle East.

“This has been a really good conference and we are very pleased to hold it here because London is a great place to bring people together. We’ve had very high level representation, senior foreign ministers, from not only the region but all over the world,” Alistair Burt told Arab News.

Among the attendees were King Abdullah II, May and her Jordanian counterpart Omar Razzaz.

Over the next five years the UK’s bilateral support to Jordan includes a new £50 million contribution to the World Bank’s Global Concessional Financing Facility, the UK’s Department for International Development said. 

This will include grant-financing to enable Jordan to undertake key economic reforms and will go toward a youth, technology and jobs program with a focus on jobs and business opportunities for Syrian refugees.

It will also include a £14 million contribution to a new World Bank led trust fund for Jordan aimed at modernizing government systems, promoting exports and making doing business easier.

In addition, the UK will underwrite a $250 million World Bank loan to Jordan. 

Over the last five years, the UK’s support was around £300 million to Jordan.

“The conference was designed to showcase how Jordan can demonstrate how its meeting its economic challenges, the reforms it was putting in place, and what it offered to private investors, as well as people who wanted to take part in infrastructure projects and we think it’s fulfilling all those objectives,” Burt said.

“We had the chief executive of Jaguar and Land Rover, a major world company, saying we are investing in Jordan. 

“And of course business talks to business, a minister telling businesses to invest might not have consequences, but it’s different if a business is saying we can invest here, and we can provide more for the people of Jordan both in education terms and employment terms.”

Burt also discussed some of the key issues effecting the region and relations with Saudi Arabia.

Asked whether the British government was lobbying Germany to reverse an arms embargo that was placed on Saudi Arabia, Burt said his colleagues are talking to their German counterparts about the issue and that the UK recognizes its strategic defensive relationship with the Kingdom.

“This means that we continue to support our partner and there are some impacts of the German situation,” Burt said.

“We are extremely conscious of the impact of a decision by a sovereign country and a partner country and relations to the arms embargo, we take a different view of course, we have very strict export controls.”

He said Saudi Arabia had been generous in its support for Jordan and the humanitarian needs in Yemen. 

The minister said he visited Riyadh a couple of weeks ago and again the importance of that relation was evidently clear. 

Asked whether the British government was concerned over the aspects of the Trump administration’s deferred Middle East peace plan, Burt said: “At first, like everyone else, we need to see what the plan actually is.

“The United Kingdom is certainly in no better position than anyone else to know any of the details. We have expressed our concern about unilateral decisions taken by the United States in relation to Jerusalem and refugees and we have made it very clear this is not our position.

“We remain of the view that the Middle East peace process is fundamental to world politics.”

Regarding the issue of Shamima Begum, the teenager who fled the UK to join Daesh, and is now in a refugee camp in Syria, Burt said the legal position of her situation will be resolved in due course.

“There is very strong feeling in the United Kingdom in relation to what she has done,” he said.

UN begins evacuating refugees from Libya to Niger

Updated 3 sec ago

UN begins evacuating refugees from Libya to Niger

GENEVA: The UN said Friday it had evacuated 163 refugees from war-ravaged Libya to neighboring Niger, but more than 3,000 others were still trapped in detention centers affected by clashes.
The move marked the first evacuation of refugees and migrants out of Libya since fighting escalated in Tripoli two weeks ago, the UN refugee agency said.
“Given the situation in Libya, humanitarian evacuations are a lifeline for detained refugees whose lives are in jeopardy in Libya,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said in a statement.
The operation came as fierce fighting continued between forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar and those backing the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
The renewed fighting has killed over 200 people and left more than 900 wounded, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
More than 25,000 have been displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Dozens of women and children were among those evacuated on the UNHCR flight that landed in Niger early Friday morning.
They had all been held in detention centers near the frontlines of the conflict.
UNHCR said it had previously relocated many of them from the Abu Selim and Ain Zara centers to its Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in the center of the capital.
In all, it said, it had relocated 539 refugees from several detention centers near the immediate fighting zone.
But it said more than 3,000 refugees and migrants remain trapped in detention in areas where the fighting was raging.
The agency said it remained “extremely concerned” for the safety of those who remain “trapped inside detention centers and exposed to violence.”
Grandi meanwhile hailed Niger for welcoming the refugees and urged other countries to follow suit.
“Niger’s solidarity in receiving these refugees is world-leading and exemplary, but Niger cannot do this alone,” he said.
“There must be shared responsibility and we need other countries to come forward to lend a hand and help bring vulnerable refugees out of Libya to safety.”
UNHCR issued an urgent appeal to the international community to find solutions for all the trapped and detained refugees in Libya.
Among other things, it said there was a need for evacuations and humanitarian corridors to allow refugees in its GDF in Tripoli to find safety abroad.
It also said new such spaces were needed, since the facility had only limited capacity.