Support for Jordan and Lebanon
The government is continuing to support soft loans to Jordan and Lebanon. This was announced by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag following talks with Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank, who is currently visiting the Netherlands for several days.
The government will make €25 million available to the World Bank for investment in infrastructure, job creation programmes and other projects. ‘This will include installing sewers and wastewater purification systems in areas where large numbers of refugees live,’ Ms Kaag explained. ‘And in addition, building first-aid clinics and improving education. These facilities will benefit refugees and host communities alike.’
Soft loans are credits extended at a low interest rate, usually available only to low-income countries. However, Jordan and Lebanon, which are regarded as middle-income countries, have also been eligible since 2016. Ms Kaag pointed out, ‘The Jordanian and Lebanese economies have been heavily burdened by the huge influx of refugees from Syria. As we can see, loans of this type help to provide reception in the region and lighten the load on host communities.’
With previous support from donors including the Netherlands, Jordan has reformed its labour market and issued work permits to over 71,000 Syrian refugees. ‘Such results have real impact,’ Ms Kaag said. ‘These countries and their people cannot tackle the problem alone – they urgently need our assistance.’ Thanks to the additional support from the Netherlands, Lebanon will be able to launch its own national job creation programme in 2018.
More than 650,000 registered Syrian refugees are currently living in Jordan. In Lebanon, the figure is estimated at over one million. The actual figures are probably much higher, since not all refugees are registered.