Find out more about UNHCR’s work for refugees over the past year
As 2019 comes to close, the number of refugees registered in Jordan currently stands at 744,795 persons of concern, among them approximately 655,000 Syrians, 67,000 Iraqis, 15,000 Yemenis, 6,000 Sudanis and 2,500 refugees from a total of 52 other nationalities. Building on the successes of previous years, UNHCR has continued to provide protection, health, education, cash assistance for basic needs and livelihood support among other services to refugees of all nationalities throughout the year.
With 83 percent of refugees living outside refugee camps in urban areas, in 2019 UNHCR Jordan continued to operate a one refugee approach in its response to refugees. Just over 40,000 refugee families of all nationalities were reached with monthly multipurpose cash assistance throughout the year, costing an average of $5.5million each month, and so far around 76,000 families have received one-off winterization cash assistance to help cover needs such as rent, heating and warm clothes throughout the winter months.
Over the course of the year, UNHCR and partners continued to provide healthcare services to refugees in Jordan. In April, the decrease of medical costs for Syrian refugees in Jordan, to the uninsured Jordanian rate, marked a significant step forward demonstrating the generosity that the Government of Jordan has shown towards refugees and what can be achieved when the international community stands in solidarity with host countries.
Health, however, remains one of UNHCR’s most in need programs. Over 328,000 medical consultations have been provided to refugees throughout the country and over $1.3 million has been distributed under the cash for health project to refugees in need of emergency care. Referrals of emergency cases from inside Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps to urban hospitals for further treatment have also totaled 15,000 cases.
UNHCR’s focus on improving access to higher education for refugees inside and outside of Jordan also continues with 592 refugee students currently studying at Jordanian universities under the DAFI scholarship program. In 2019, young people were also supported to access scholarships at high education institutions in third countries like Japan, Canada and the UK.
Innovation also featured heavily in UNHCR’s education approach. Early 2019 saw the launch of a network of ten innovative Connected Learning Hubs in community centers across the Kingdom enhancing education opportunities and access to online learning for refugees of all ages. In addition, UNHCR continued to emphasize the need to support Jordanians in the local community as well as refugees. A new partnership with Luminos Technical University College, for example, has seen over 50 refugees and Jordanian youth embark on diploma courses.
Supporting opportunities for a wide range of vulnerable families, not necessarily just refugees, has also been the case in the field of work. Recognizing the need to support local Jordanians boost their economic welfare alongside refugees, over 100 home based businesses have been registered through UNHCR’s partnership with Blumont following the decision of the Jordanian Government to allow refugees to license and operate businesses from home in late 2018.
In addition, the cumulative number of work permits issued to Syrian refugees in Jordan currently stands at around 165,000, representing 45 percent of the working age population. Permitted to work in the sectors of agriculture, manufacturing, construction and some hospitality industries, and as recognized at the recent Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, Jordan is one of the countries leading the way when it comes to refugee employment. More still needs to be done, however, in improving the access of women to the labor market and supporting non-Syrian nationalities.
Finding durable solutions for refugees has continued to be a feature of UNHCR’s approach in Jordan. By the end of 2019, 5,952 individuals have been submitted for resettlement to 13 countries and over 5,000 refugees have departed this year to rebuild their lives in a third country. In line with global trends, however, the number of resettlement places available for refugees in Jordan continues to decrease and remains far off meeting the estimated 75,000 refugees who need resettlement from Jordan. In 2020, to try and meet this demand, UNHCR will continue to explore and expand options for complementary resettlement pathways.
In addition, 30,000 Syrian refugees have returned home from Jordan in 2019. Although the flow of returns has remained steady throughout the year, refugees in Jordan continue to cite safety, security, a lack of services and work opportunities as the main reasons hindering their return.
Responding to the protection needs of refugees is a core part of UNHCR’s mandate and operation in Jordan. A community based approach has seen 37 mobile helpdesks operate in eight different governorates in Jordan where refugees can approach UNHCR with any legal and protection issues they dace outside of the main centers in Amman, Irbid, Mafraq, Zaatari and Azraq.
In coordination with partners, UNHCR has provided around 75,000 legal consultations for refugees in 2019 and continues to work with Government Ministries in leading trainings on refugee rights and responsibilities in order to build capacity. Supporting the expansion of the National Aid Fund has also been a priority for UNHCR, to ensure that the most vulnerable families in Jordan receive the assistance they need.
Despite all this work, at the end of 2019, UNHCR’s operation in Jordan was only 58 percent funded. Although support from the international community, including major donors such as the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union, has been graciously welcomed, it remains evident that prioritization of the needs of refugees in 2020 is much needed if UNHCR is to continue helping the most vulnerable families in Jordan.