Jordan - Syria Refugee Relief fund

Jordan - Syria Refugee Relief fund
Milad Ayoub/CARE Lebanon
Milad Ayoub/CARE Lebanon

CARE International is seriously concerned about the fate of thousands of refugees and migrants – especially women and girls – following the Beirut blasts last week and urges donors and aid agencies to prioritise them amidst emergency aid and recovery plans.

According to Bujar Hoxha, CARE Lebanon Country Director; “There are more than 250,000 migrant workers in the country and 200,000 refugees currently living in Beirut - majority of whom come from Syria. Across the country refugees now make up 20% of Lebanon's population. They were already some of the worst affected by the economic crisis affecting the country, as they already lack resources or a steady income to afford more expensive food and supplies. On top of this, many were living in temporary shelter and tents even before the explosion, not even homes, and their situation was incredibly precarious.”

There were a large number of migrant workers working at the port of Beirut and surrounding factories and according to unconfirmed figures around 47 Syrian workers are thought to have died between the port and the factories of Quarantina. While UNHCR reports around 34 refugees were killed by the blast.[1]

“We are particularly worried about women refugees, who have less access to legal services to protect them against gender-based violence, largely because of their unclear legal status,” says Hoxha. “That makes them more susceptible to violence going under-reported.  Since the start of the pandemic, refugee women have decreased access to safe spaces as well and this only likely to increase as a result of the explosion.”

"Beirut also has thousands of domestic workers – predominantly women – who have come from oversees and are entirely dependent on the whims of their employers. Even before this latest explosion, many were being put out on the streets as their employers became poor overnight due to hyperinflation. This is only likely to increase as the explosion has destroyed thousands of homes and livelihoods.”

As of 11 August, CARE has distributed food packages and hot meals to 1,850 of the worst affected individuals since the blast on Tuesday 5th August and plans to reach 6,000 people by the end of Wednesday 12th August.

“We have made sure to put the needs and special requirements of women and girls at the heart of our emergency response, and doing our best to listen to them on what it is they most need, and make sure we promote their voices in decision making processes going forward. Years of emergency response experience show us what a valuable contribution they make, when given the chance, to responses and recovery efforts,” says Hoxha.


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Syria Relief/CARE
Syria Relief/CARE

Amman, 24 March 2020 – As the first case of coronavirus is confirmed in Syria, CARE is deeply concerned about the health and safety of over three million people in Northwest Syria, over half of whom are internally displaced and live in crowded camps. With the inability to test for the virus, many more cases in the Northwest, which struggles with overcrowding and a fragile health infrastructure, could go undiagnosed.

“Nine years of conflict have left Syria in shambles. Not only are many vulnerable people living in tents and makeshift shelters, but civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and health care centers, have been decimated. With many healthcare professionals having either left the country or become displaced, providing sufficient medical assistance at scale is nearly impossible. As developed countries struggle to cope with responding to the virus, an outbreak will have devastating consequences on the war-torn country, where millions are in need of aid,” said Nirvana Shawky, CARE’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Since the Government of Turkey’s decision to ban some medical items for export, including protective masks and gloves, these items have become scarce in Syria and are being restricted for the use of medical professionals and facilities. Other items such as hand sanitizers are also difficult to find.

Through its Syrian partner organizations, CARE has received reports of people exhibiting symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, but with no capacity to test by medical staff in Syria, those cases cannot be confirmed. The need to provide testing kits and protective gear is on the rise, with reports by the World Health Organization that kits will be delivered to Idlib on Wednesday.

“Illnesses do not know borders and a likely outbreak in Syria will overwhelm the already stretched aid response. A pandemic requires a global responsibility to act. We must act quickly and collectively by stepping up preventative measures and the transfer of medical supplies to spare Syrians even more suffering and avert a humanitarian catastrophe,” Shawky says.

In response to the spread of the coronavirus, CARE has put in place COVID-19 prevention, mitigation and response programming, focusing on supporting clean water and sanitation services. In Northwest Syria, CARE continues to ensure the delivery of clean water. Due to the need to increase handwashing, CARE has put plans in place to increase water trucking to people in the area. CARE also will increase the distribution of soap, cleaning material and information material for hygiene promotion.

  • CARE has been providing aid in Syria since 2014, and has reached more than 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.
  • 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


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Two New CARE Reports Examine Resilience and Changing Gender Norms Among Syrians

New York (February 26, 2020) – Nearly nine years of conflict have brought about sweeping and protracted changes in the lives of Syrian people. Syrians are adapting to a ‘new normal’ as it relates to new livelihood strategies, new ways of accessing education, and new gender roles. Syrian women, both inside Syria and who are refugees in neighboring countries, have entered the workforce in much larger numbers, and are doing jobs often seen as being only for men, according to two new CARE reports entitled, “Understanding Resilience” and “Syrian Refugee Women’s Roles”.

“The death, injury, disappearance, and displacement of Syrian men has forced many women to adapt their traditional roles. Syrian women have had to learn new skills, forge new social networks, and change the way they perceive their own roles, and rights. They now have more power, decision making authority, and, importantly, a voice,” says Nirvana Shawky, Regional Director for CARE in the Middle East and North Africa.

“As we begin to start contemplating a post-conflict Syria, it is absolutely crucial that women are at the front and center of efforts to build a sustainable peace. The evidence clearly shows that when women are not front and center of such efforts, there can be no sustainable peace. But as the report shows, ensuring women’s participation even at the community level will not be an easy trajectory,” says Ambassador James Roscoe, Head of Open Societies and Partnerships at the UK Mission to the UN.

CARE’s 2020 “Understanding Resilience” and “Syrian Refugee Women’s Roles” studies similarly found that women are taking on roles they simply did not have before: roughly 72% of respondents of the study in Syria and 83% of women in the refugee study indicated having had at least one new livelihood strategy since the start of the conflict.

“Syrian women have shown a strong willingness and ability to adapt to the realities of their new situation. Their newfound confidence, strength, and sense of competency must be recognized and reinforced. More than ever, it is critical that we provide Syrian women with our collective support, as they overcome severe hardship. They are the key to their country’s future,” says Shawky.

“Understanding Resilience: Perspectives from Syrians” identifies social capital as the most critical and consistently cited source of support from families and individuals facing conflict-related shocks and disruptions to their lives. Social networks are an indispensable safety net. In the midst of active conflict, people relied on one another to absorb shocks, stay safe and survive. People who have strong social networks in a location that they have been displaced to are more likely to effectively adapt to that new location.

In “Syrian Refugee Women’s Roles”, many women report increased confidence and influence in family decision making, as both “the breadwinner” and “mother and father”. This has also brought about new feelings of empowerment and independence, and has changed some views on marriage and degree of agency they have in making decisions about their relationships. But this dual role also brings stress and exhaustion, as women fulfil both the role of full-time breadwinner, as well as primary caregiver and homemaker. This has compounded the psycho-social stress associated with nine years of conflict and for many, repeated displacement.

On the other hand, some women interviewed indicated a desire to return to the traditional role they had always imagined for themselves. While change was necessary for survival, there continue to be many pressures from both family and community for women to return to more traditional roles.

The studies also found that many women both inside and outside Syria reported that they found the change in their roles difficult, but positive, indicating that they were mostly happy to have the opportunities to work and earn income for themselves, despite the ensuing intense pressures. Working and contributing income has vastly increased the confidence of many women and their belief in their own abilities. Overwhelmingly, these women have a new found sense of confidence, competence, and empowerment that needs support, whether it is exhibited in women as leaders outside the home, or as strong, confident women inside the home.

Links to CARE's reports and a policy briefing are attached to this update.




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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    



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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."


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Location: Atlanta, GA - USA
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Project Leader:
Nia Carter
Atlanta, GA United States
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