WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank said on Thursday it has approved a $150 million loan for Jordan to help it deal with the cost of coping with the hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighboring Syria that have flooded into the country to escape the civil war.
About half a million refugees, out of a total of more than 1.7 million, have fled to Jordan to escape fighting in Syria that began as protests against the government in March 2011 and has since degenerated into civil war with an increasingly sectarian dimension.
Jordan has sought to win more outside help in its struggle to deal with the vast influx, and the World Bank, the global development lender, said the loan could help bring further international assistance.
"Large numbers of refugees from Syria arrive every day with their lives torn apart and Jordan continues to receive and care for them," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement. "That sort of generosity needs our support, and we are pleased to offer this urgent assistance."
Reuters first reported on the World Bank's plan to lend Jordan $150 million in May.
About $50 million will go towards medical supplies, $20 million to help the government's budget to provide medical services, and the rest for basic commodities such as bread and cooking gas, the World Bank said.
The bank said the health system has been under strain from the population influx, while households face rising prices for food and housing due to higher demand.
Syrian refugees met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jordan on Thursday, angrily demanding the United States do more to protect their fellow citizens.
In June, the White House announced plans to provide direct military support to the Syrian rebels. But the refugees urged Washington to also impose a no-fly zone and safe havens in Syria.
(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Peter Galloway)