Many countries like Jordan that face a strain on resources while simultaneously trying to care for refugees are forced to battle external influence on their countries from donor nations. The meddling is producing new societal conflicts.
The refugee crisis has been an international cause for concern since the dawn of the Syrian civil war. This ,of course, does not mean that there aren't others seeking refuge from different states; however, the terrors in Syria and Iraq have triggered a mass exodus that nobody was prepared to handle.
Three states have have borne the brunt of the fallout: Lebanon, Turkey, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The living conditions and the quality of life differ according to factors such as culture, inflation rates, physical spaces, and foreign aid supplementing the efforst of host countries, amongst a host of other complications.
The Syrian Support Campaign in London in 2016 raised approximately 10 billion dollars. This sum does not consider pledges made in the previous five years to support this disaster.
Large donor states and bodies include the European Union, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Kuwait to name a few, pledged volumes in last year’s meeting.
In Brussels this year, an article in the Jordan Times explains that in the presence of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, additional funds were pledged. The high-level meeting in the capital of Belgium raised approximately 40 billion dollars to host communities in the MENA region.
However, as generous as this aid appears, it comes with strings-attached, and concerns emerge on the level of involvement of foreign powers in the domestic affairs of its recipient states. As the aid is essential to the effort, the only option the Kingdom has - is to bend to these stipulations.
Critics argue that throwing money at the crisis serves as a way for Western powers to keep refugee populations controlled and at bay. By confining them within the region—and away from their borders—this bypasses their responsibilities as signatories of the Convention on the State of Refugees.
However, in exchange, the EU has allowed for relaxed trade rules between itself and Jordan. This conveniently ignores Jordan’s technical needs and shortcomings in the local industrial sector to allow it to meet EU regulations and subsequently export to EU nations.
Jordan is not a signatory of the 1951 Convention on the State of Refugees but is arguably more committed to aiding those in need than their Western counterparts. The Kingdom has a Memorandum of Understanding with the UNHCR to protect those with valid refugee statuses and agrees on the legal framework in this respect – though they are not bound in the same manner that signatories of the Convention are.
While this seems like a strategic tactic that has a number of potential benefits for both the local and refugee communities, it simply disregards the fierce competition for employment in the country.
The demands made by foreign donors on labour force integration potentially risks social cohesion, and particularly relationships between Syrian refugees and lower income Jordanian families.
The total number of refugees varies according to different sources. However, as of early 2016, the population of the Kingdom stood at 9.5 million, out of which 2.9 million are non-national. This includes people of several different origins including Egyptians, who make up a large portion of the labour force, and approximately 1.3 million Syrian refugees (not all of whom are registered with the UNHCR).
In addition, there is a large population of Iraqis and Palestinians without national ID's that are registered as part of the census.
As explained in The Telegraph in 2015, Jordan has limited water resources and national consumption has increased by approximately 20 percent nationally, and by 40 percent in the northern governorates close to the Syrian border since the influx of refugees. It is likely that since 2015 this percentage has increased.
Up to 90 percent of Jordan’s energy is imported and as such absorbing large populations is proving costly.
It is conventionally understood that locals are paying, through their tax dinars for these costs - which has created some resentment on multiple levels.
First, towards the refugee population, and second towards the Jordanian government. Government misallocation of resources causes further strain on the social dynamics between competing groups. This increased frustrations from the lower income strata as these conditions ultimately led to an increase in costs across the board, and a dampened chance for employment due to greater competition.
While it is in the interest of many European states to skirt their responsibility of accepting vulnerable individuals fleeing from war zones, the repercussions on the scapegoat states are immense.
The security risks imagined by Western states are also concerns for host communities as well. If Jordan, Turkey and other states are willing to take, and mitigate these risk in favor of the greater good of a humanitarian effort - it is imperative that the West also increase their efforts to allow refugees across their borders.
Alternatively, donor states must provide funds that do not include stipulations that have detrimental effects towards host states.
Crucially, it is the responsibility of host states to be transparent and admit to the fact that the strain is affecting the infrastructure and social fabric of their nations.
Rather than blindly accepting funds, due to the needs of their fragile economies, host states should take a stance by refusing aid that threatens their grip on domestic affairs.
Without proper allocation of resources, it paves the way for misuse and corruption on the level of the state, local and international agencies, as well as implementing partners.
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