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Grant of DKK 200 million will create better future prospects for young Syrian refugees in Jordan

Hosting more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees, Jordan is among the countries that have received the most refugees from the conflict-affected country. The lives of the Syrian refugees are uncertain, and many are struggling with poverty and unemployment. A consortium led by PlanBørnefonden will ensure that more young Syrian refugees enter educational programmes and join the labour market. Photo: PlanBørnefonden

Youth unemployment in Jordan is record high, and up to 50% of young people were out of work in 2020. With a grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation of DKK 200 million, PlanBørnefonden will work purposefully to give more young people access to jobs and income opportunities.

The Foundation has donated more than DKK 500 million to counter the effects of the conflict in Syria, which over the years has developed into the world’s most extensive humanitarian crisis. The latest grant of DKK 200 million is the largest humanitarian grant in the Foundation’s history.

“With the grant for PlanBørnefonden, we are sowing the seeds for far more Syrian children and young people to have a brighter future in which they can support themselves and their families and live a dignified life. Unemployment is a huge problem among young people, so considerable effort must be made in primary schools and at the other levels of education, with special emphasis on ensuring that the educational programmes offered match the current job market,” says Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, CEO, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The initiative is expected to reach out to up to 48,000 young Syrian refugees and other young people in Jordan affected by the conflict in Syria, which has been going on for more than a decade. PlanBørnefonden is using the grant to launch Najahna, a 5-year programme that includes initiatives to strengthen the transition between education and jobs through, for example, financial offers that will enable young people to access loans on very attractive terms so that they can start their own business.

Professional and mental tools targeting young women
Girls and young women are especially cut off from educational institutions and the labour market. This partly results from traditional views on education and work but also because more young women drop out of school at an early age as a result of marriage or early pregnancy.

Dorthe Petersen, CEO, PlanBørnefonden, says: “It is absolutely crucial that especially girls and young women – both Syrians and Jordanians – have access to high-quality education and employment. This is the only path to sustainable, long-term development. By giving more young women the professional and mental tools to become financially independent, we ensure that more people can support their family and have a say in the home. We can do this with Najahna because we and our partners have a strong presence among the young people but also in the labour market they are entering. We are extremely happy and proud to receive this grant.”

PlanBørnefonden’s Najahna project comprises a consortium of international and Jordanian public and private actors, including the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), whose sister organization, the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, contributes to the efforts locally in Jordan, as well as PlanBørnefonden’s country office in Jordan who is advancing the rights of children and young people in Jordan with a special focus on equality for girls.

Thomas Bustrup, Deputy Director General at the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), says: “We must work to ensure greater focus on vocational education in Jordan, and especially that these educational programmes better suit the needs of companies. We build on several years of experience from Jordan in creating better apprenticeships for young people and making finding jobs in a Jordanian company attractive for refugees and other young people.”

The Najahna Consortium also includes the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Royal Health Awareness Society (RHAS), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the King Hussein Foundation. From the beginning, a key element of the Consortium has been to engage both private and public actors to strengthen the local base of the initiatives. The project has been created in collaboration with the Government of Jordan.

Facts about Najahna
The development of the Najahna project started in early 2021, with the Foundation awarding an initial grant of DKK 1.2 million to PlanBørnefonden. The current DKK 200 million grant for the project runs over a 5-year period starting in January 2022.

The project is part of the Foundation’s strategic flagship Youth Empowerment humanitarian initiative, which aims to improve access to education and opportunities for self-sufficiency among young people in conflict-affected areas, with a focus on the crisis in Syria.

About PlanBørnefonden – part of Plan International
PlanBørnefonden works long term in the world’s most fragile and vulnerable areas to ensure the rights of children and young people and create equal opportunities for everyone regardless of gender. This is achieved in close collaboration with colleagues at Plan International in 77 countries around the world. Plan International is one of the world’s largest and oldest children’s rights organizations. Read more here: (in Danish).

Further information

Marie-Louise Jersin, Senior Communications Partner, +45 3049 4957, [email protected]