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King says Mafraq bearing brunt of refugee crisis, urges capitalising on strategic location


The Jordan Times


MAFRAQ — His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday said that the residents of Mafraq Governorate are bearing the brunt of the Syrian refugee crisis in the Kingdom.
“Of all Jordanian regions, you are under pressure the most in the north, especially Mafraq, due to the consequences of the Syrian crisis,” King Abdullah said.
The King, accompanied by HRH Crown Prince Hussein, was on a visit to the northern governorate to check on the needs of its residents, as part of a series of ongoing public outreach 
“The Syrian refugee crisis has affected the level of services and job opportunities and resulted in hikes in rent costs,” the King told dignitaries, officials and residents of Mafraq who attended the meeting.
The King said he was aware of additional challenges facing Mafraq residents, such as urban expansion and the issue of “the population living outside the city’s borders, to whom services are not delivered”.
The King added that Jordanians are incurring the heaviest parts of the cost of the Syrian asylum, which “is not a strange thing for Jordanians, who are known for their compassion and solidarity”. 
“It is of the utmost importance that the government and the municipalities work together to face these challenge in a comprehensive manner,” King Abdullah said.
The King also pointed out the strategic location of Mafraq Governorate, which “must be taken advantage of to attract investments and solve part of the challenges”.
“Our relations with Iraq are developing, and this should work for the benefit of the two countries in various fields,” the King told the gathering.
King Abdullah also addressed the challenges of poverty and unemployment, noting that they are the biggest challenges, which “need intensified efforts to minimise their negative effects”.
Several officials and residents delivered speeches during the gathering, expressing their pride in King Abdullah's firm stance and efforts to defend Palestine, protect Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites and ensure a lasting peace in the area.
They also listed their needs and demands, which included coming up with programmes and projects that would address unemployment among the youth.
The demands also included increasing the budget allocated for the governorate and establishing parks and playing fields for families and young people.
Officials and education officials addressed the main problems facing Al al-Bayt University, including the financial constraints and the need to furnish two main buildings that were built recently to serve as the faculties for economy and engineering.
The officials said that JD10 million was allocated to build these two structures, but they remain non-operational because there is no budget for their furnishing.
Other demands focused on allocating a plot of land to build a church and a school for the governorate’s Greek Orthodox congregation, to replace the existing church, which is located in the heart of the busy city.
Several women also called during the meeting for providing small loans for women to start their own businesses.
Royal Hashemite Court Chief Yousef Issawi informed the gathering that, upon Royal directives, the court will follow up on the demands listed by citizens during the meeting, stressing that the economy and engineering buildings at Al al-Bayt will be furnished with the support of Royal initiatives.
The King assured the gathering at the end of the meeting that a committee from the Royal Court and the government will be visiting the governorate next week to follow up on citizens’ demands and “focus on the priorities”.
King Abdullah added that the government is also “responsible for finding solutions for the challenges and needs of the governorate”. 
Adviser to His Majesty for Communication and Coordination Bisher Al Khasawneh, Special Adviser to His Majesty Manar Dabbas, Adviser to His Majesty for Tribal Affairs Saad Hayel Srour and Interior Minister Samir Mubaidin attended the meeting.

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