NEF Commits to Support Syrian Refugees and their Host Communities

MARRAKECH, Morocco – May, 2015 – NEF announced at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Middle East & Africa Meeting our Commitment to Action to build economic resilience among urban refugees and poor members of their host communities in Jordan and Lebanon.

In partnership with local community organizations, we will establish three support centers to equip more than 2,000 people with the tools and training for dignified, long-term economic self-sufficiency through small business grants, skills training and community support.

The Syrian refugee crisis has plunged more than 170,000 Lebanese into poverty and is exerting stresses on Jordan’s stretched resources, costing the government $7 billion to date. Meanwhile, 70 percent of Syrian refugees are food insecure and 77 percent are in debt, pushing many families to resort to harmful earning strategies. Children contribute nearly half of household incomes among refugee families living outside camps, and a quarter of refugee families are headed by women, many of whom are earning for the first time.

Building on NEF’s successful work with Iraqi refugees in Zarqa, Jordan, the Siraj Centers, named for the Arabic word for “lantern,” will provide a safe space for women refugees and poor members of host communities to come together and extend mutual support. Jordanian and Lebanese participants will also be eligible to compete for grants to start-up or expand small businesses. For refugees, whose right to work in formal sectors is limited, Siraj Centers will provide economic and livelihood services such as life skills, vocational and financial literacy training, as well as cash assistance.

Here is the full text of our commitment:

Building Resilience of Refugees and Host Communities
Commitment By: Near East Foundation

In 2015, The Near East Foundation will establish three “Siraj Centers” to build the economic self-reliance of 2,250 people in Lebanon and Jordan. The centers will serve as safe spaces where Syrian refugees, and vulnerable Lebanese and Jordanian people can access financial education services or start income-generating activities with access to training, information and financial resources. This investment in education and workforce development will further the Near East Foundation’s goal of providing long-term solutions for refugees and vulnerable people to safely support their families and their communities.

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