10 ways UNHCR helped refugees in 2020

2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenges for people around the world. In Jordan, COVID-19 has affected refugee and host communities alike, leaving the most vulnerable populations with increasing unmet needs. UNHCR and partners continue to respond to the multifaceted situation and addressing the increasing number of challenges in the country. 

1. In 2020, and throughout the COVID-19 emergency, UNHCR, in coordination with the Government of Jordan, has continued to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to 750,000 refugees registered with UNHCR from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and 45 other nationalities. Through the “One Refugee” approachUNHCR works towards reducing and ultimately eliminating differences in rights and services based on nationality. 

2. In 2020, more than 110,000 refugees have renewed their Asylum Seeker Certificates, through UNHCR’s newly implemented Registration remote modalities. Documentation provided by UNHCR enables refugees to access education opportunities and health services, apply for work permits, and more.

A UNHCR staff member helps a refugee who has approached UNHCR Registration Centre in Amman to renew their asylum seeker certificate.

3. With the majority of refugees lacking a steady and reliable income, UNHCR provides targeted cash support to vulnerable families who rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic needs. Throughout 2020, each month an average of 33,000 refugee families received cash assistance from UNHCR, which enabled them to pay rent, purchase food or medications, or send their children to school. As part of UNHCR’s winterisation programming, an additional 52,000 families received a one-off cash assistance to cover needs arising from the cold winter weather, including heating and purchase of warm clothes.

Jalal, 62, who fled his home in Mosul, Iraq, with his wife and two children two and a half years ago when ISIS invaded, is collecting cash assistance provided by UNHCR which he will use to pay bills and for some of his medicine.

4. COVID-19 has significantly diminished economic opportunities for refugees in Jordan, with more than 1/3 reported having lost their livelihoods in the past months. Together with partners, UNHCR continues to work to ensure access for refugees to livelihoods opportunities, whether through vocational trainingsemployment centre consultations, or entrepreneurship programs. 

5. Half of all refugees in Jordan are children, whose education has been severely disrupted during the COVID-19 crisis. Through 2020, UNHCR worked with the Ministry of Education, to support children in accessingonline learning platforms and continue their education. Some 17,000 students accessed UNHCR’s Kolibri platform throughout the year. UNHCR also continues to support refugees who wish to pursue higher education, through the DAFI scholarship programme. In 2020, an additional 30 students were awarded scholarships to study twelve different subjects.

Ghazal, 11, and Omar, 9, study from home, as schools are closed due to COVID-19 measures.

6. As part of its protection response, UNHCR provides psycho-social support and emergency cash assistance to gender-based violence (GBV) survivors, while local NGO partners also provide specialized support in safe spaces across Jordan. In 2019, 70% of survivors who reported GBV incidents were Syrians. Recognising the heightened risk of violence and exploitation due to the COVID-19 crisis, in 2020, UNHCR and partners supported some 39,000 survivors or persons at risk of SGBV with specialised response services and reached an additional 41,000 people through SGBV prevention and empowerment activities.  

Throughout the year, UNHCR Jordan also continued work closely with the Jordanian government and national service providers to strengthen GBV prevention and response mechanisms. In parallel, UNHCR continued to focus on building national and partner capacity with respect to its child protection ad youth development strategy. In 2020, close to 5,000 children were provided case management services by UNHCR and partners. 

7. UNHCR’s mandate focuses on finding durable solutions for displaced populations through resettlement and complementary pathwaysThrough November 2020, 3,446 refugees were submitted for Resettlement from Jordan to Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and the UK, while 1,396 refugees are scheduled to leave Jordan through other programs, including scholarships, family reunification, the humanitarian corridor programme.

Abdulraheem, 27, has lived in Jordan since 2013 after fleeing his home in Taiz, Yemen, but in December 2020, will be resettled to Sweden through UNHCR support.

8. For refugees in Jordan, healthcare is not always accessible. With half of the refugees considered medically vulnerable, UNHCR’s support in a range of primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare interventions remains critical. Throughout 2020, UNHCR continued to support refugees’ access to healthcare, including through cash assistance and hospital referrals of emergency or life-threatening cases. 

9. Throughout 2020, UNHCR continued to strengthen its community-based approach in the protection response, putting refugees at the centre of programming, actively engaging them in decisions impacting their livesSharing information and raising awareness with refugee communities on a variety of issues, including on COVID-19, remained a key aspect of UNHCR’s community-based protectionthrough a number of platforms, including social media and community networks. In 2020, UNHCR has reached on a monthly basis 1,000,000 people on average through social media, as well as over 60,000 persons through SMS, in addition to more than 350,000 calls that are handled by agents on UNHCR’s Helpline each month, while since its launch in April, the UNHCR Jordan Help site received over 100,000 visitors with 400,000 page viewsThrough all aspects of its programming, UNHCR also aims to support and empower host communities in Jordan, in order to strengthen the links between Jordanians and refugees and promote social cohesion and peaceful coexistence.

10. COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of UNHCR’s response through the year, and in response to the pandemic, UNHCR implemented a number of innovations to address the increasing challenges. UNHCR worked closely with the Ministry of Health and health partners to step up the response, through preventative health measures in refugee camps, provision of PPE, health screenings, case management, construction of quarantine spaces, and moreAdditionally, over 50,000 newly- vulnerable refugee families,  have received emergency cash assistance by UNHCR and partners, to cover basic needs, including rent, food and health.  

The quarantine site in Azraq camp was built at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak to allow for isolation of refugees who had been in contact with positive cases. It was further expanded in October to increase capacity.

While 2020 has been a challenging year for people around the world, UNHCR in Jordan has continued to serve the most vulnerable communitiesseeking to provide some relief to those who have been severely impacted by the pandemic and enable them to cover their basic needs with dignity. UNHCR’s response needs in Jordan for 2020 are $426 million. As of 15 December, UNHCR Jordan has received 56% of funds for its 2020 requirements.