Queen Noor joins UNHCR training for outreach volunteers in Jordan
AMMAN, Jordan, October 11 (UNHCR) - Jordan's Queen Noor on Thursday joined 30 Jordanian and Iraqi volunteers taking part in a UNHCR-run course focusing on the agency's "Back to School" campaign for Iraqi refugees.
Her Majesty, wife of the late King Hussein, warmly commended the participants for their work in helping their communities and in supporting refugees. Her Noor Al Hussein Foundation (NHF) is the primary local implementing partner of International Relief and Development (IRD), a major US-based aid agency.
Thursday's session at the Amman headquarters of the Jordanian Red Crescent (JRC) was part of a heavy schedule of training that UNHCR is organizing for 300 Jordanians and Iraqis who will visit more than 14,000 families as part of a community outreach programme run by IRD.
The aid agency has been working since August to deliver basic health services to refugees in their homes. In this extension of the project, the IRD volunteers will give vouchers for uniforms to refugee families that have enrolled their children in schools. They will also distribute UNHCR brochures about health care, community centres, registration and assistance programmes.
In Thursday's session, Queen Noor and the volunteers learnt about the ambitious "Back to School" campaign that UNHCR and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) are working on to encourage 50,000 Iraqi refugee children to enrol in schools in Jordan.
"Community outreach for Iraqis is essential. Our experience of the past year shows that many Iraqis do not come to our offices. It is therefore our responsibility to go to the areas where Iraqis live to ensure that they receive our support and attention. This initiative is showing us that collaborating with partners such as NHF, JRC and IRD is one of the most effective ways of outreach," said Imran Riza, UNHCR's representative in Jordan.
In September, UNHCR established a mobile field unit with the specific aim of improving community outreach. The team is composed of four staff members, of whom two are regularly present at community centres run by UNHCR implementing partners, CARE and Caritas.
During its first month, the mobile unit reached more than 450 Iraqi families or cases throughout Jordan. Depending on the needs of each family visited, they are then referred for UNHCR services and are given the full package of UNHCR information.
Earlier this week, UNHCR and its partners met and drew up comprehensive programmes for 2008 to support education, health care, assistance for vulnerable refugees and mass information.
UNHCR programmes for 2007 and 2008 aim to support Jordanian ministries and non-governmental organizations in recognition of their significant contribution to refugee education, health care and welfare.
By Dana Bajjali in Amman, Jordan