AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The head of the International Labor Organization and Jordan's labor minister on Thursday called for large-scale international investment in the kingdom to help put Syrian refugees living there to work.
ILO chief Guy Ryder and Nidal Katamine, the minister, spoke to reporters ahead of next week's annual Syria aid conference, to be held in London.
An appeal coordinated by U.N. agencies seeks close to $9 billion for 2016, to help war victims in Syria, as well as some 4.3 million Syrian refugees and regional host countries, where most of the displaced still live.
One of the goals of the conference is to find ways to improve lives of refugees in the overburdened host countries, including Jordan, by creating job opportunities.
The shift in emphasis from previous donor conferences came after the influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees to Europe over the past year, driven in large part by increasingly tough conditions in the regional host countries.
Ryder and Katamine did not give specifics, including how much investment would be needed or how many jobs could be created, both for Syrians and for Jordanians.
Katamine suggested billions of dollars would be required, adding that putting Jordanians to work would be the priority.
The labor minister said Europe is experiencing now what Jordan has dealt with for the past five years — a mass influx of refugees.
"As a minister of labor, I am in need of a lot of job opportunities, and this can only be met by the international community and by actually allocating funding and investments," he said.
Ryder said his organization is ready with project proposals once funding is approved in London. In helping the refugee host countries, such as Jordan, the international community "will indeed not just be acting in the spirit of solidarity, but will actually be meeting its own needs," he said.