Humanitarian and political background
Syrian refugees in Jordan are struggling. As they contend with difficult living conditions across the country, the obstacles are complex. They struggle to remain registered as refugees, to provide for their families, and to access essential services – including education for their children. The Jordanian communities that host them, meanwhile, feel the impact of hosting high numbers of refugees – with each year that passes, local infrastructure becomes more strained.
We established our Jordan operation in November 2012.
Camps and cities
Jordan is home to large camps for Syrian refugees: Zaatari, Azraq and Emirati Jordanian Camp (Murijep al Fhoud). Combined, these camps have more than 140,000 refugee residents, half of whom are children. The camps are vast, yet Syrian refugees can access basic shelter and services like medical care and education
Those who live in camps, however, are the minority – 4 out of 5 Syrian refugees in Jordan live scattered throughout cities, towns and villages. They can be harder for humanitarian agencies to reach, who cannot always give them the aid they need. Unable to afford proper housing, many face eviction and resort to unfit rented accommodations.
Since 2015, significantly fewer asylum seekers have been able to enter Jordan than in previous years, despite fresh waves of displacement caused by hostilities across Syria.
Syrian refugees already in Jordan, meanwhile, are forced to make desperate choices. Most refugees in host communities survive on humanitarian assistance with close to 90 per cent living under the national poverty line. Many are unable to find opportunities that allow them to earn a legal income.
As a result, some opt for an unsafe return to Syria. In 2015 in particular, others attempted to travel to Turkey and on to Europe in the hope of a better future.
Losing out on education
A new generation of Syrians is growing up without the schooling and opportunities they deserve.
A third of all Syrian refugee children in Jordan remain out of school. For those who are learning, it's tough to stay in school. Some have missed out on years of their education and can't keep up. Others can't afford the costs of books and school supplies. More still must find informal work to help feed their families. Many public schools, meanwhile, have reached their limit and can't accommodate more children.
Syrian youth particularly struggle to find opportunities to learn. The inability to enrol in advanced classes, combined with pressures to contribute to the family income, can force Syrian youth to abandon their studies. Many have given up hope on their dreams for the future.
Read more about our work on supporting youth.
People we helped in Jordan in 2015
NRC in Jordan
Through our Jordan programme, we support Syrian refugees and local Jordanian communities.
NRC Jordan focuses on providing basic services in refugee camps, while enabling its residents to participate in activities and community life. In urban environments, we focus on supporting refugees' independent coping mechanisms, as well as building resilience among the local communities that host them.
NRC has offices located in Amman, Irbid, Jerash, Mafraq, Zaatari camp and Azraq camp.
In Jordan, we focus on providing shelter and education for refugees who live in and outside of camps.
Shelter and basic needs
We are UNHCR's lead shelter and distribution partner in Zaatari and Azraq camps.
Here, our shelter teams:
- Manage the day-to-day operation of reception areas, including new arrivals support in Zaatari and Azraq camps.
- Distribute shelter, non-food items (NFIs) and winter items through in-kind and cash and vouchers.
- Provide initial shelter support (tents and transitional shelters).
- Support shelter upgrades and maintenance.
- Maintain communal sites and develop community infrastructure.
- Engage skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled Syrian refugee labourers through an incentive cash-for-work scheme, in coordination with the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate (SRAD).
In host communities across northern Jordan, we work on sustainable shelter and energy projects.
In these urban areas, our shelter teams:
- Provide financial support to Jordanian landlords, to finish or rehabilitate shelters. In return, they sign 18-month rent-free lease agreements with Syrian refugees.
- Monitor lease agreements and landlord-tenant relationships.
- Work on renewable energy technologies in shelters and in schools, to offset utility costs.
- Distribute financial assistance to the most vulnerable Syrian and Jordanian households.
Education and youth
We work with the Jordanian Ministry of Education and UNICEF to ensure that out-of-school Syrian refugee children do not fall further behind. We work to bring young Syrians programmes that will help them develop a professional skill set.
Our education activities include:
- Running learning centres in Azraq, Zaatari and EJC camps, which offer "catch-up" classes for out-of-school children.
- Overseeing the construction of new classrooms in urban areas, including the expansion of WASH facilities.
- Offering specialised youth programmes in Azraq, Zaatari and EJC camps that give technical training courses, including tailoring, male hairdressing, electrical wiring and information technology. We offer the only certified International Computer Driving License (ICDL) course in the camps.
- Providing both children and youth with Arabic, maths and English classes, as well as sports and recreational activities.
- Providing distant learning programmes for youth.
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
Our ICLA teams help Syrian refugees claim their rights, and understand their responsibilities in Jordan.
Our ICLA activities include:
- Providing counselling on legal processes, civil documentation and refugee registration procedures.
- Advising on housing, land and property rights (HLP), including evictions and landlord-tenant disputes.
- Working with Jordanian legal aid partners on referrals for legal assistance, and give follow-up support on individual cases.
- Coordinating with UNHCR and other partners who give legal assistance.
Syrian refugees’ documentation crisis
A documentation crisis is taking shape among Syrian refugees in the region, threatening to leave hundreds of thousands in legal limbo, with dire consequences for their ability to access services and have a durable return to Syria.
Cold hands, warm hearts
“We had forgotten what it feels like to be in a warm house,” says Hiyam (37) from Syria.