His Royal Highness Prince Charles visits refugees in Jordan

Luai vividly remembers the moment when armed militias entered the hospital where he was working in Mosul, Iraq and issued an ultimatum that they had two weeks to leave otherwise they would be killed. As a member of Iraq’s Christian population, Luai did not hesitate. Within ten days his family had packed up everything they could fit into their small car and fled in Jordan.

It was 2015. Six years later, Luai, his wife Rana and three children still live in the two-room apartment they first rented in East Amman. Their perspectives to return home are dim.

“We are tired psychologically,” says Rana. “Often I can’t bear to think more than an hour ahead in time. Life is hard.”

Luai, Rana and their three children are pictured at Al Nuzha Community Centre in Jordan

Although the family have slowly got used to life in Jordan, their children are enrolled at the local church school and they have made friends with their neighbors, day to day expenses remain a challenge. Although Luai was a nurse back in Iraq, non-Syrian refugees are not allowed to work in Jordan, leaving them completely dependent on humanitarian assistance.

As a result, Luai and Rana are just one of the 33,000 vulnerable refugee families who receive cash assistance from UNHCR Jordan every month. Supported by donors such as the UK, the family got the chance to meet with His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, during his recent visit to Al Nuzha Community Centre in Amman, Jordan.

Established in 2018, Al Nuzha Community Centre was one of the first community centers in Jordan to provide a place to gather and exchange s for both Jordanians and refugees of different nationalities. Managed by UNHCR and the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Development (JOHUD), the centre aims to promote peaceful coexistence between refugees and host communities.

As part of his visit, Prince Charles met with members of Nuzha’s Community Support Committee (CSC) who act as an important bridge between communities and UNHCR, reporting challenges that refugees are facing in Jordan as well as advocating on their behalf for increased services, work opportunities and designing educational activities for all ages.

Amitab, an Iraqi refugee and member of UNHCR’s Community Support Committee, speaks to HRH Prince Charles

“Every day we have refugees come to us in the community centre, or contact us via WhatsApp or Facebook to ask for help. We try to guide refugees to where they can find support or refer them to UNHCR if they need urgent protection services.” Amitab, an Iraqi refugee and member of Nuzha’s CSC, explained to Prince Charles.

More recently members of the committee have taken on a role in allaying refugee fears or misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine, to boost the vaccination rate among refugees in Jordan.

“It was a pleasure to welcome HRH the Prince of Wales to our community centre today – said Dominik Bartsch, UNHCR Representative in Jordan. We count on the UK to maintain its support to Jordan, which continues to generously host over 750,000 refugees.”

Since 2019, the UK has provided approximately $33 million towards UNHCR’s cash assistance program in Jordan, providing a lifeline to the most vulnerable refugees in the Kingdom.