Jordan will get a cheap $100 million loan to help create 100,000 jobs for Syrian refugees and its own citizens, the World Bank president said Sunday.
The long-term loan, almost interest free, is part of an attempt by the international community to improve conditions for refugees in overburdened regional host countries, including Jordan and Lebanon.
More than 4.8 million Syrians have fled their country since the start of the Syria conflict in 2011. Jordan hosts about 640,000 registered Syrian refugees and Lebanon more than 1 million.
Cheap loans by the World Bank and other donors are among the new tools meant to help finance education and job creation for refugees in the region. Such support is also meant to slow the migration of refugees to Europe.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have been visiting the region since last week, first stopping in Lebanon.
Kim announced the $100 million loan for job creation in Jordan on Sunday, after Lebanon was also awarded $100 million to ensure universal school enrolment for Lebanese and Syrian refugee children by 2017.
The bank president said the money for Jordan and Lebanon — both middle income countries — is from a special fund normally reserved for the poorest countries.
“We are taking money from that fund and giving it to a middle income country because Jordan has taken such extraordinary measures” in hosting refugees, he said.
Kim did not say how soon the 100,000 jobs could be created and how many of them would go to refugees.
Jordan has set aside special economic zones where it hopes improved trade arrangements with Europe will lead to greater investment and eventually more jobs. However, the trade arrangements have not yet been worked out, and the entire job creation scheme is expected to take several years.
The idea of concessional loans was part of a package of support for refugees and their hosts announced at a Syria aid conference last month.
Eventually, the World Bank and other donors hope to offer $3 billion to $4 billion in cheap loans to refugee host countries, with international donors buying down interest.SHOW MORE