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Jordan - Syria Refugee Relief fund

Jordan - Syria Refugee Relief fund

More than two weeks after the escalation of violence in north-east Syria, women, children, and families continue to be uprooted from their homes, with displacement figures reaching close to 180,000, according to the United Nations. While civilians continue to bear the brunt of the recent fighting, women and girls are the most affected, reporting psychological distress, lack of medical care and need for essential items, including warmer clothing as the winter approaches.

“Tens of thousands of civilians are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Many women in north-east Syria have been separated from their husbands, sons, or brothers and are escaping the fighting with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the children on their arms. They are especially vulnerable and in need of protection, psychosocial support and services that address their specific needs,” said Nirvana Shawky, CARE’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Displaced women do not have access to medical assistance, as functioning healthcare facilities are overwhelmed with emergency cases. Pregnant women are at risk and unable to reach doctors or hospitals for medical assistance. Ambulances can only provide services to births and other emergency cases. With people sheltering in the corridors and rooms of public buildings, women and girls are also in need of privacy for their personal hygiene, dignity, and wellbeing. Most of them have to walk outside shelters, alone in the night to reach a toilet, posing a risk to their safety.

“We are visiting collective shelters hosting displaced people, including schools, and seeing many women who are unable to cope with the situation. They are under a lot of psychological stress and we are seeing increased depression and anxiety cases among women and girls. This is especially affecting young and pregnant women, many of whom have become displaced for the first time. The women I see cry whenever we meet. They tell me all they want is to go back home,” said Lamia*, an aid worker for CARE in northern Syria.

Outside Syria, the situation is becoming increasingly dire in Iraq, as about a thousand refugees from Syria cross into the country on a daily basis. CARE is stepping up its humanitarian operations in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. A first priority will be the provision of safe drinking water, basic sanitary infrastructure, waste management, and hygiene support in a refugee camp near the border.

“Safe drinking water and securing toilets to ensure the dignity and safety for women and girls is an absolute must at the moment,” says Wendy Barron, CARE’s Iraq Country Director. “Another very important need we have seen in the past is to find ways to provide safety and adequate support for women and girls in this vulnerable situation.”

In the past months, CARE has consecutively warned of the consequences of decreased humanitarian funding for Iraq. This call is now being reemphasized by Barron, “The Kurdistan Region of Iraq already hosts nearly 230,000 refugees from Syria in addition to more than one million Iraqis who are displaced within their borders. Local host communities are stretched to their limits and the situation in many camps is very difficult. Aid agencies like CARE are concerned that funding will continue to decrease while needs are obviously on the rise.”

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

  • CARE is assisting vulnerable and displaced people in northeast Syria by providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene promotion. CARE is carrying out much-needed distributions of hygiene kits and winter clothes and providing psychosocial support, including psychological first aid to those immediately affected by the violence. CARE plans to reach 20,000 people in northeast Syria with life-saving and emergency assistance by the end of October.
  • CARE has been providing aid in Syria since 2014, and has reached more than 4.5 million people so far. Our work is focused on food security, livelihoods, women’s economic empowerment, shelter, water and sanitation, maternal and reproductive health support, and psychosocial support for people in crisis.
  • In Iraq, CARE is stepping up its efforts to respond to the needs of displaced people from Syria who fled recent violence in the north east of the country aiming to reach more than 600 households with water and sanitation facilities, hygiene kits as well as garbage collection services. Together with its partners CARE also plays a crucial role in camps for internally displaced people in Iraq keeping toilets, showers and washing facilities clean as well as providing medical supplies and nutritional supplements to pregnant and lactating women and their babies. As of June 2019, CARE has reached more than 340,000 people with humanitarian assistance. 
  • About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and providing lifesaving assistance in emergencies. In 100 countries around the world, CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to help lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. To learn more, visit    



This Humanitarian Worker is Building Bridges Between Refugee and Host Communities in Jordan
Despite the difficulties Widad encounters daily, she remains passionate about her job.

For #WorldHumanitarianDay, we shared perspectives from CARE’s humanitarian workers around the world. More than 95% of CARE’s staff is from the countries where we work, and for many of them, humanitarian work hits close to home. Widad is the Team and Operations Supervisor for CARE Jordan at the Irbid Center, assisting Syrian refugees and Jordanian host communities for more than five years.

"When I first started at CARE, I knew we were going to work with refugees and assess their needs, but I wasn’t really prepared for what was coming. I still recall when a young man came into the center for help. You could see the psychological toll the war in Syria had on him. He was terrified by any movement, any sound, and even by the noise of me moving my chair.

I used to let these daily stories leave work with me. I would constantly be thinking about them. So much so that for a while I felt I had to deprive myself of enjoying certain things or spending any money, because if other people can’t enjoy them, then why should I? Later, I reached a point where I found a balance. I realized that I shouldn’t deprive myself of enjoying things. I need to be able to live my life and be strong to be able to help others.

The consequences of the Syria crisis and refugee influx on the northern city of Irbid, which is close to the Jordan-Syria border, started to become visible around 2012. There was, and still is, a population explosion that all but depleted the city’s resources. But Jordanians were incredibly sympathetic toward their Syrian refugee neighbors, willing to help in any way.

The situation started to change mainly because of limited job opportunities. You could tell it had become more competitive. I’ve heard several people complain about going grocery shopping and seeing refugees with full shopping carts, since they would use their food vouchers at once, while they would only be able to afford one or two items. That sentiment began to change once NGOs started working with both refugees and host communities in Irbid. There was no longer a sense of jealousy or a feeling that the refugees were getting all the assistance.

I’ve encountered hundreds of people looking for assistance, but one story stands out in my mind. A man came to inform us that his son’s wife crossed the border while pregnant. She died while crossing and immediate surgery was necessary to save the baby. The baby girl survived, but her mother was returned to Syria for burial.

The message to all aid workers here is that this is the circle of life. The mother died and gave birth to a new life. The continuity of life is a motivation for those working in the humanitarian field. This opened my eyes to how I see my children. I now see my children as my hope. The seeds I plant in them will grow with time. They will take the values I plant in them and continue my legacy. This gives me hope for a better world, that people will share the same values and work towards the same vision.

I am a human rights advocate. I feel like any case is my case. If I hear success stories from my team that are similar to my own, I feel a sense of joy and pride that I’m doing something right.

No matter what field I end up working in in the future, I know that I will still hold the same humanitarian values I learned from my work at CARE. I will remain the humanitarian worker that I am, with the same values and the same ethics."



As Violence in Syria’s Idlib Intensifies, Over a Hundred Thousand Civilians Have Nowhere to Seek Refuge

AMMAN (May 12, 2019) – CARE is extremely alarmed by the recent escalation of violence in northwestern Syria, including in areas in and around the demilitarized zone. With more than 150,000 people displaced within a week, civilians in Idlib fear for their lives, as they have no place left to seek refuge. Heavy bombardment has reached villages which lie within the buffer zone, agreed by Russia and Turkey on the border between northern Hama and southern Idlib in September 2018.

“The area has seen a dramatic increase in violence, including airstrikes, barrel bombs and artillery attacks. This has caused significant displacement. The situation on the ground is chaotic, with families fleeing from the targeted area on crowded roads,” said Aleksandar Milutinovic, CARE’s Syria Director.

Rana, the Director of a CARE-supported center, which is run by Women Now, a Syrian partner organization in Idlib, says, “The bombardment is still heavy in the surroundings of Idlib city which caused a huge wave of displacement from the suburbs. The situation is miserable because most of the displaced people don’t have a place to go. The lucky ones can stay in their cars that have their belongings and some food. But others are staying in the open, in parks or open fields. There’s no cover for them but the sky.”

For civilians living there, the attacks were completely unexpected. “All of a sudden we heard heavy shelling. We didn’t know what is happening and why. We left immediately to save our lives and our children. Thousands of people were forced to leave their houses and we have nowhere to stay. I had to leave the area with my family, but where can we find shelter? Our life is miserable. I prefer dying than living like this. We came with nothing but the clothes that we are wearing. We had to leave in a rush to survive,” said Salim, a Syrian man who is now displaced in Northern Idlib.

According to the UN, more than 300 civilians had lost their lives due to hostilities in the northwest in the last three months and 60 of them in April alone. Scores more have been injured. Following increased attacks in the area, over 150,000 people have fled to areas closer to the Turkey border, while 300,000 people live in the buffer zone where there are hostilities. Many families remain on the run and in the open. The newly displaced families are moving north, with nothing but their clothes, towards areas already hosting high numbers of displaced. A number of health facilities have been impacted by the attacks – either directly or indirectly – including two of the health facilities CARE supports in Southern Idlib.

The first incident took place last Friday, when a barrel bomb landed very close to the health center causing damages in the building as the door was ripped off and the fence collapsed. The second incident took place on Wednesday. Both health facilities were evacuated and all staff are safe and unharmed. The facilities were not directly targeted but they now remain closed until further notice. CARE has been funding these centers since 2014. During April alone, CARE and its partner supported 3,500 patients, providing reproductive health care, pregnant women care, including antenatal and postnatal care as well as gender based violence case management.

“Idlib is home to four million people, many of whom have been displaced multiple times and have been living in camps for years. Should there be a major military escalation in the country’s northwest, it will be the most vulnerable who will pay the heaviest price as they have nowhere left to go”, said Aleksandar Milutinovic. “We have been working closely with our partners over the past 48 hours to understand the increasing needs and mobilize resources”.

CARE has been working with its local partners to monitor the situation and we have reached more than 18,000 in our current response until today; with distribution of essential household items, including water buckets, and tents for shelter and hygiene kits for women and adolescent girls as well as new arrival kits with essentials for those who have moved with nothing but what they could carry.

CARE and its local partners also provide cash assistance to the displaced families to help them cover their basic needs and ready-to-eat meals. We are also providing psychological first aid and protection referrals through our mobile clinics. As the situation escalates further and the number of those displaced has increased sharply, CARE and its local partners will continue to monitor the situation and mobilize further resources to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.



Syrian and Iraqi refugees living in Jordan are facing a decrease in humanitarian aid and an increase in debt, with women carrying the heaviest burden, eight years into the Syria crisis that has impacted neighboring countries, a new research conducted by CARE has revealed.

Research conducted in several areas of Jordan showed that a majority of Syrian and Iraqi respondents have noticed a decrease in aid over the last year that was due to the overall cuts in the humanitarian response and higher living costs. The two combined have pushed some families into spiraling debt. Nine in ten Syrian refugees reported having debt, while four in ten reported that their situation since arriving in Jordan had deteriorated.  Jordanians have four times the debt of Syrian refugees, though their monthly income is only 70 Jordanian Dinars ($100) higher.

"The CARE 2018 Urban Assessment found that some 70 percent of surveyed Syrian households gained income from work during the previous month, a noticeable rise from 2017 when income was gained equally from humanitarian assistance and work," says Salam Kanaan, CARE Country Director in Jordan.

While on average, Syrian refugees reported a monthly income of 279 USD during the past year -- earned primarily by adult men (59.8%) and women (13.7%) – their expenditure was 328 USD, spent mostly on rent. To close this gap, they reported cutting school costs by keeping children at home, sending children to work, and marrying young daughters. Iraqi refugees also reported much lower rates of formal employment than Syrian refugees.

"Some figures are shocking and show how deep the crisis is. For example, one in ten Syrian families reported that a boy or girl under the age of 18 in their family was married off, mainly in order to decrease the financial burden on the household. In comparison, 2.1% of Jordanians interviewed reported their children are married, and only 1.1% of Iraqi refugees," adds Kanaan.

When it comes to education, only 53.9% of Syrian children below the age of 18 are attending school, compared to 85% of Jordanian children and 80.1% of Iraqi children. Syrian refugees reported financial obstacles, including school fees and transportation costs, and verbal and physical harassment at school as reasons for not attending. In some instances, children had to leave school and work in order to support their families.

And while women, whether Syrian, Iraqi or Jordanian, have been increasingly in roles traditionally held by men, they also face more domestic violence. And though refugee women are asked to provide for their household through work, they are more likely to have limited access to healthcare, education and formal employment. Syrian and Iraqi women reported low levels of access to family planning, and lower levels of postnatal care, in comparison to Jordanian host community members. The report highlighted the increased psychological stress on refugees that continues to negatively impact all members of the households, especially children and the elderly.

As for the future, a high majority of Syrian refugees (84%) hope to return home one day but have no immediate plans to do so, while there is a sharp increase in the numbers of those looking to resettle in a third country. On the other hand, about one third of Iraqi refugees in Jordan said they hope to return home in the future.

 "Improving the situation for all communities living side by side in Jordan requires urgent, sustained, and concerted efforts from everyone: the government of Jordan, international donors, and aid organizations. Any sign of fatigue, as the crisis persists, will be felt greatly by thousands of men, women and children. There is a clear need for access to sustainable livelihoods, better linkages between emergency and development programming, and a departure from the nationality-based approach to programs mechanisms that respond to the neediest populations," said Kanaan.

Thank you for your commitment to CARE's work in Jordan.  We would not be able to support these communities without your generous and consistent investment in our mission.


Walaa and her family used to spend time together gathered around the TV at home in Syria watching their favorite shows. Movies and TV captivated Walaa. She often filled the hours after school or before bed immersed in the worlds of Syrian TV and imagining how she might create her own productions one day.

“I have dreamed of becoming a filmmaker for as long as I can remember,” she says.

When the war in Syria began in 2011, it interrupted those dreams and transformed her reality into something much harsher than the series she watched or dreamed of creating. In early 2014, constant attacks and fighting drove Walaa’s family from their home. Soon after, a bomb exploded near Walaa’s father Mohammed, piercing his leg with shrapnel and ultimately forcing doctors to amputate it.

“Had there been better medical care, my leg would have been treated easily,” Mohammed says. “But because of the war, not only was I injured, but treating my injury timely enough was not possible, so I lost my leg.”

Four years later, Walaa, now 15, and her family live in Azraq, a small, remote, desert town 65 miles east of Jordan’s capital Amman. Mohammed works in a small coffee shop and fixes electronics. Managing the bustling coffee shop requires Mohammed to be quick and nimble, which can be difficult on one leg. He relies on his son Nasr, 12, to help him.

“He is the leg that I lean on,” Mohammed says.

The poignancy of such a supportive and loving father-son relationship hasn’t escaped Walaa’s attention or her camera lens. Walaa recently directed and produced a short documentary about her father and brother called “The Little Engineer,” so named for Nasr’s penchant for fixing electronics, a lifelong hobby Mohammed has passed to his son. Walaa created the film as part of a CARE-supported film school at Azraq’s camp for Syrian refugees. At the film camp, professional filmmakers instruct and mentor aspiring filmmakers like Walaa. She produced “The Little Engineer” with three other Syrian refugee girls her age.

“The concept behind the documentary was my idea,” she says. “I wanted to showcase an example of a Syrian refugee family struggle, especially how, due to our circumstances, a child is forced to juggle school and work. It is not easy, and I wanted to shed the spotlight on it. I am very happy with the end product!”

School is one of Walaa’s biggest joys, and her favorite subject is science. But few things excite her like making movies.

“The film school helped me technically, so I will already have an idea about production, directing and filming if I succeed in fulfilling my dream in the future.”

Walaa and her family hope to resettle in another country where she can chase her filmmaking dreams. As with so many refugees, however, resettlement is hardly guaranteed and fraught with challenges.

“I was approached by a man I thought I knew well, promising to help us resettle in Canada,” Mohammed says. “In order to help make our resettlement happen, he demanded we pay $700. ‘These fees are a mandatory deposit,’ he told me. ‘They will be returned to you at the airport before you leave Jordan.’”

Instead, the man took Mohammed’s money and disappeared, dashing the family’s hopes and leaving them in debt.

“What saddens me most is that we had hope, so much of it, and it was all taken away suddenly."

This was not the first time the family had — and lost — hope for resettlement. Early last year they received news they’d be resettled in the United States. But that prospect quickly faded when the Trump administration banned citizens of several countries, including Syria, from entering the U.S.

Despite such obstacles, Walaa keeps her camera trained on the special moments — her brother fetching coffee for their father or fixing electronics by his side. It helps keep her dream alive, especially as it takes shape around new moments and experiences.

“One day, I will talk about the situation of Syrian refugees, and about all that has happened in Syria since the beginning of the war,” Walaa says. “Even when the war ends, the suffering of Syrians will not end soon. It will take time for life in Syria to become normal again. That is what I want to talk about. I have always believed in one thing: If you have a dream and you work hard enough, you can certainly achieve it.”




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Location: Atlanta, GA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @CARE
Project Leader:
Kate Nichols
Atlanta, GA United States
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