UNHCR grants US$11 million to boost health services in Jordan
AMMAN, Jordan, November 19 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency on Monday pledged US$11 million to help Jordan provide improved medical services and facilities for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees in the country.
The money will be distributed by Jordan's Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation under a funding agreement signed in Amman today. The money will help the Ministry of Health enhance public medical services and primary health centres.
"In the health sector this will mean increased capacity and improved services to help Jordan and our Iraqi brethren," Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Suhair Al-Ali said after signing the accord on behalf of the Jordanian government.
The grant comes as part of UNHCR's commitment to help neighbouring countries, especially Jordan and Syria, cope with an influx of more than 2.2 million Iraqis, who have fled the conflict in their country. UNHCR assistance in these countries is focusing on five areas of assistance - education, health, food, social and legal counselling, and shelter.
Iraqi refugees have been putting a strain on Jordan's health sector and the government has been trying to boost and improve medical facilities. "For a long time there was not enough attention given to the burden on Jordan and we continue to try to help in alleviating this burden," UNHCR Representative in Jordan Imran Riza said after signing the agreement.
The health grant follows an earlier agreement under which UNHCR agreed to provide some US$10 million to strengthen the capacity of Jordan's public schools. Tens of thousands of Iraqis were allowed to enrol in public schools at the start of the academic year last September.
By Rana Sweis in Amman, Jordan