Jordan: Cash assistance for Syrian refugees beset by mounting needs
21-11-2013 Operational Update
As the conflict continues unabated, Syrians are fleeing their homes every day to seek refuge in Jordan. With winter approaching, the ICRC and the Jordan National Red Crescent Society are finding new ways to help them cope with increasing needs.
More and more families embark on a dangerous journey across Syria to reach the eastern border areas of Jordan in search of a safe haven. Between 200 and 500 people arrive every day in this remote desert area. Refugees, including the elderly and the very young, have walked long distances mostly at night to cross the border. © ICRC / Didier Revol
Many Syrians who have found refuge in Jordan depend on aid provided by local and international aid agencies. The vast majority of the refugees have been taken in by local communities in northern areas near the Syrian border. Some have not received any other kind of assistance since arriving in the country.
"Between 200 and 500 people are arriving daily. Most have endured a gruelling journey across the desert," said Nana Chukhua, ICRC delegate in Jordan. "As soon as they arrive, they urgently need water, food and shelter."
"We were forced to travel dozens of kilometres through the desert with scarcely any food or water," said Abu Yazan, a Syrian refugee from Homs. "It was cold, and we had to sleep on the ground."
The majority have left all their belongings behind and cannot meet basic needs such as food, health care, house rent, water and electricity bills. Besides distributing relief items to the refugees, the ICRC and the Jordan National Red Crescent Society launched a programme in October to provide cash assistance for 1,000 families in Mafraq governorate, northern Jordan, with the dual aim of helping them and easing the burden on local communities.
"The cash money will definitely help us cover our basic needs, mainly house rent," said Um Anwar, a 32-year-old Syrian who resides in Mafraq. "The money will also help me obtain treatment for my 13-year-old daughter," the mother of five added.
During the months of October and November, the ICRC:
- provided more than 10,000 Syrian refugees crossing the border into north-eastern Jordan with blankets, mattresses, pillows, clothes for children, emergency biscuits and hygiene items;
- set up 10 pre-fabricated shelters, tents, two pre-fabricated sanitation caravans (with 12 toilets in each), seven drinking-water coolers and five water tanks for Syrian refugees at several posts along the border and in Raba'a Al Sarhan transit facility;
- supplied to around 42,000 Syrian refugees living in local communities in northern Jordan rice, bulghur, white beans, lentils, cooking oil, canned tuna, tea and other food items, as well as hygiene items such as soap, shampoo and washing powder, in cooperation with the Jordan National Red Crescent Society;
- provided 1,000 Syrian refugees living in local communities in northern Mafraq governorate with cash assistance, as part of a programme implemented with the Jordan National Red Crescent Society;
- provided the Jordanian Royal Medical Services with wound-dressing materials and other basic medical supplies, mainly for the health posts along Jordan's north-eastern border, to be used in the treatment of Syrian refugees entering Jordan;
- provided Ruwaished Government Hospital with basic medical supplies to enable it to meet the increasing primary health needs of Syrian refugees entering Jordan;
- helped over 4,700 Syrian refugees, including two minors separated from their families, maintain contact with other family members inside Syria and elsewhere by making international telephone calls available to them;
- funded a project for training 68 Syrian women in hairdressing, computer skills and sewing at the vocational training centre of the Jordan National Red Crescent Society to boost opportunities for employment or small-scale enterprise.
An innovative cash transfer programme
In Jordan, the vast majority of Syrian refugees live in host communities and often have problems meeting their basic needs. To help them with expenses not covered by other relief mechanisms, the ICRC and the Jordan National Red Crescent Society launched a cash assistance programme in October in Mafraq governorate, in the north of the country, which will be implemented over a period of six months.
An initial group of 1,000 families have started receiving debit cards issued by a major bank that will allow them to withdraw money directly from ATM machines. The amount of money (from USD 70 to 310) made available to each family depends on the size of the household and will be increased during winter months.
As the ICRC’s Hekmat Sharabi puts it, this programme "is much more flexible than just giving them assistance that they might not consider suitable. It preserves people's dignity by giving them the opportunity to determine on their own what they are most in need of."
TV news footage (easy to preview and to download).: Syrian refugees arriving in Jordan in dire need of help,
For further information, please contact:
Hala Shamlawi, ICRC Amman, tel: +962 777 398 794
Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 23 or +41 79 44737 26