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Jordan - Syria Refugee Relief fund

Jordan - Syria Refugee Relief fund

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.


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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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Read an update from the President and CEO of CARE USA, Michelle Nunn, on how we can "ensure that when it comes to protecting refugee families and ensuring safe migration, American compassion and values prevail."

"As tragedy was unfolding on the U.S.-Mexico border this summer, I was thousands of miles away, visiting a very different border.

I met Walaa, a 15-year-old Syrian refugee and aspiring filmmaker, at the Azraq Refugee Camp in northern Jordan, near Syria. Her film about the relationship between her father and her 12-year-old brother won top prize at a camp youth film festival. Her brother calls their father a hero for not letting the bomb that cost him a leg stop him from working at a coffee shop and creating his own repair business. Walaa’s father says his son is the real hero and describes in the film how he is able to find dignity in work only because his son works by his side, doing chores that are impossible for him: “He’s the leg that I stand on.”

Each day’s encounters with families like Walaa’s, many reunited or at least strengthened by America’s investment in humanitarian aid for refugees, were jarringly juxtaposed with television images of American power deployed at our border to separate children from their parents. Nothing less than American outrage at the president’s policy ended the era of family separation.

But Washington still weighs steps that would lead to more refugee children separated from families across a strife-torn world. We know it’s wrong; the question is whether our shame about the policy at our border extends to other American policies that affect borders the world over. I refuse to accept that America’s sense of moral urgency only applies at home when cameras are rolling. The time is urgent not just to turn an abhorrent moment into an activist movement, but to ensure that when it comes to protecting refugee families and ensuring safe migration, American compassion and values prevail. Here are four steps we can take, now.

First, face reality. There are more displaced people on our planet today than at any time in recorded history. And the global refugee crisis is growing, driven by conflict, drought, and famine, all exacerbated by climate change. Children are bearing the brunt. Last year alone, 174,000 separated children registered as refugees worldwide. They are among the staggering 28 million children displaced globally, from Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan to South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and southern Ethiopia.

Record displacement is a challenge of our time. CARE has more than tripled the number of people we reach worldwide through emergency assistance within the past five years. The governments we work with, including Jordan, are being strained under the weight of refugee flows. For every 10 Jordanians there is one refugee — the equivalent of the entire population of Canada moving to the United States. For our interests and those of our allies, we need a family-first policy for the long term. Cutting off assistance to refugees at our borders and those around the world is the wrong answer; the United States should be leading the way to find the right ones.

Second, it would be a tragic mistake for the administration to reduce even more drastically — to 25,000 or less — our annual cap on refugee resettlement. We are on pace in 2018 to resettle the fewest number of refugees since 1977. If the United States, traditionally the world’s leader on this issue, cuts in half our ceiling on refugee settlement, after already cutting it in half when the president took office, this will send a message globally that we are no longer who we have always proudly said we are.

Third, instead of slashing refugee humanitarian aid as the administration has attempted in its two budgets, we need to increase it in concert with our family values and in allegiance with allies who bear the greatest burden. Congress has been the first line of defense against American retrenchment and should be lauded. But we can do more, including in our own hemisphere, by addressing the underlying reasons families head north in the first place: governance, crime and violence. We can help alleviate it for pennies on the dollar of what we spend to triage an ever-unfolding tragedy. Foreign assistance should be deployed as a first resort to create secure borders for the long term.

Last, we should start listening to the refugees themselves. It’s no coincidence that when Walaa had the chance to tell her own story, she turned the lens on the bond between parent and child. One day the lens of history will focus on America’s role in this period of unprecedented human displacement. Let’s hope it shows an America that, rather than cutting the legs out from under refugees, chose to support families in their darkest hours around the world, acting as the leg upon which they can stand."

- Michelle Nunn, President and CEO, CARE USA



*This piece originally appeared on The Hill website on August 21, 2018 linked in this report.


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Fusool in her kitchen preparing a delicious meal.
Fusool in her kitchen preparing a delicious meal.

Since we started responding to the influx of Syrian refugees in 2012, CARE has helped more than two million Syrian refugees in the region. In Jordan alone, CARE has directly benefited 327,000 Syrian refugees, and around 1.5 million indirectly, including other family members. Consider that for every 10 Jordanians there is one refugee.  This would be equivalent to the entire population of Canada moving to the U.S.

Experience Fusool's story below to take a walk in her shoes and recognize the invaluable impact of your generosity towards CARE's support of the refugees in Jordan. 

"We had to flee Syria and come to Jordan because fear overcame every other emotion.

My husband, who did odd jobs in Syria tried to work many times in Jordan, but he would either get caught working illegally, or business owners would cheat him out of his pay. This situation pushed him into a complete breakdown, and we had to seek medical help. He still has panic attacks on bad days; he runs out of breath and has to leave the house or open a window immediately. The doctor taught me how to deal with him when this happens; hold his head in a certain position and make him focus on his breathing.

When this happened, I decided to start my own business, in order to provide for my family, though I never worked before.  I’ve known CARE since I came to Jordan. The organization offered my husband and me a lot of help. So when they told me one day that they are conducting a cooking course, I was ecstatic about the prospect of cooking at home and making money. The course was so much fun, I learned a lot about owning a business, maintaining it, expanding, marketing and much more. Not to mention the cooking, of course!

I received a grant of 1,100 Jordanian Dinars (1,500 USD) to buy kitchenware to help me make Kubbeh (meat and bulgur balls filled with minced meat), and pastries. I also bought a deep fryer, a blender, a small refrigerator and pots and pans. Ever since, I cook for a growing customer base, which is being built on word of mouth and through contacts. As the sole breadwinner of this family, I can now pay rent, feed my family, and make sure my children don’t need anything.

My best seller dishes are the Kubbeh, tabbouleh and roasted chicken. My customers are mostly Jordanians, because they all know that Syrian food is really tasty. I cook for the church nearby as well when they have events, and this is where I make the most profit. My business has made a big difference in our lives: the constant worry of not having enough money for my children’s expenses is now gone. My next step is to print brochures and send them with my kids to school so that the teachers and students could also spread the word."

- Fusool

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Aqueel cutting hair in Azraq Camp, Jordan
Aqueel cutting hair in Azraq Camp, Jordan

Meet Aqeel, an inspiring Azraq resident

After participating in CARE International in Jordan's hairdressing vocational training, Aqeel was able to overcome his disability and contribute to the community.

Despite not being able to hear or speak, after intensive training, Aqeel quickly picked up the required skills, becoming the best hairdresser among the beneficiaries, and gained popularity among the Azraq camp youthMeet Aqeel, an inspiring Azraq resident

After participating in CARE International in Jordan's hairdressing vocational training, Aqeel was able to overcome his disability and contribute to the community.

Despite not being able to hear or speak, after intensive training, Aqeel quickly picked up the required skills, becoming the best hairdresser among the beneficiaries, and gained popularity among the Azraq camp youth.

CARE International in Jordan has alsostarted training of Syrian volunteers at Azraq camp on mental health provided by a local organization so CARE can build the local capacity of Jordanian organizations.

Your donations are making a difference to Syrian refugees in Jordan. Thank you.

Azraq residents attending mental health training
Azraq residents attending mental health training
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Location: Atlanta, GA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @CARE
Project Leader:
Nia Carter
Atlanta, GA United States
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