Every morning Nazir, 25, leaves his house at 7 AM to head down to the market in search of work. As a Syrian refugee living in Sweileh, a northern suburb of Amman, he says that there is a particular area of the market where project managers will come to find construction workers like himself for work on local building sites each day. “I wait at the spot at about 10 AM, chat with my friends, and hope to God there is work.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, however, work has been hard to come by, and Nazir says he barely works 10 days a month, compared to the 20 he was working before. Sadly, this is the reality for many refugees and Jordanian daily workers across the country as the pandemic has led to an increase in unemployment. In the third quarter of 2020, Jordan’s unemployment rate stood at 23%.
For refugees who largely relied on daily employment, the impact of this has been devastating. Although refugees in Jordan can hold work permits in the agriculture, construction, and manufacturing sectors, very few have permanent contracts and instead, like Nazir, make their living being paid by the hour.
“We receive the minimum wage, but even without this small income, it has been extremely difficult. Even if I do find work, it is sometimes only for a couple of hours a day.”
In addition, with no safety net to fall back on, UNHCR has also observed an increase in refugees getting into debt. For Nazir, this is no surprise.
Cash assistance provides a vital lifeline to refugee families
With a young family to take care of — including his two month-old son Moumen—the pressure was mounting. In December 2020, however, Nazir received an SMS from UNHCR informing him that he would receive COVID-19 cash assistance.
“It was a big relief. I was able to get the things my family needs.”
Nazir says that with the cash, he ended up buying winter clothing for his children and some proper food. “Meat and vegetables, nutritious food which my wife especially needs as she’s just given birth.”
For families like Nazir’s, creating a semblance of stability is key if they are to continue rebuilding their lives in Jordan. UNHCR cash assistance remains one of the critical mechanisms for refugees to do this.
This Ramadan, every second counts to give a family in need a second chance. Your gift will help to save lives in Ramadan and the months ahead.
“Take from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them to increase.” [Al Tawba:103]
Refugees are living in an “emergency within an emergency”, and more families need our help to face the challenges to come. Zakat funds allow us to cover the immediate needs of families living under the extreme poverty line. You can calculate your Zakat here: https://zakat.unhcr.org/hk/zakat-calculator and offer it to a refugee or displaced family who has fled from some of the world’s most devastating crises. 100% of your Zakat is guaranteed to reach refugees as lifesaving cash or in kind assistance.
Dedicate your Zakat now to refugees who are unable to reach the safety of home this Ramadan. If anyone is eligible for Zakat, it is those who have lost everything except their faith in a better tomorrow. It takes seconds to give your Zakat to those who need it the most today.
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Syrian refugees in Jordan
The conflict in Syria since 2011 has led to millions of refugees fleeing the country, with over 750,000 settling in Jordan, out of which 80% currently reside in urban areas. In 2020, cash assistance was provided to around 30,000 Syrian refugee families through ATMs at the Cairo-Amman Bank, which are equipped with IRIS technology, providing an instant and highly cost-effective way to get regular support to very vulnerable families.
In the past, Zakat fund donations for Syrian refugees amounted to around HK$6.7 million, supporting 15,438 individuals. And HK$1 million in Sadaqah was also received to support programs in Jordan.