“Life as a Syrian refugee in Jordan is like being in quick sand; whenever I move, I sink a little bit further.”Mohammad
520,000 refugees, or 84% of the 620,000 Syrians refugees registered with UNHCR in Jordan, live in urban areas. Since the beginning of the crisis in 2011 the Government of Jordan has opened its doors to Syrian refugees, and together with humanitarian organisations has provided them with essential services and support. As the the situation for many refugees is increasingly dire as savings and other resources become gradually depleted.Seedra, 6, and Nawaf, 2, asleep on floor mats in a former chicken barn in Mafraq, Jordan. After their family pay 175 JOD (247 USD) each month in rent, there is no money left to furnish their room with anything other than a few mattresses, pillows and a modest carpet.
The report, based on data covering almost 150,000 Syrian refugees, shows that rental costs account for more than half of total refugees household expenditure.
The survey shows that over two thirds of refugee households live below the poverty line.
School enrolment levels are one of the main positive trends identified in the survey.
Nevertheless, among families with school-aged children almost a third reported withdrawing children from school, and 6 percent reported resorting to child labour to help support the family.
In both cases, rates were highest among the poorest families, indicating a link between such negative coping strategies and economic vulnerability.
At 12 years old, Ali, a refugee boy from Aleppo, is the man of the family, struggling to support his two aunts, cousin and cousin’s infant child. Ali’s parents were killed in Syria as was his cousin’s husband. Ali’s begging from motorists is the main source of income, but he can bring in a maximum of about 50 JOD (70 USD) per month while the rent for their living space is over 70 JOD (100 USD) per month.
This activity is taking him away from school. Ali crouches with his aunt in the space that they are using as a kitchen in Karak, Jordan. Formerly the building entrance way, the area where they stay has been converted to become a living space for the small family group.
A quarter of households report having unreliable electricity supplies, 46 percent have no heating, and 20 percent have no functioning latrine. Nearly half of all households reported sharing their accommodation.
Ahmed, 16, points to the ceiling in his family’s kitchen in Karak. Moisture caused the cement to break into pieces and fall. Mohammad tried his best to re-cement the hole, but he’s not sure how effective his work was.
Faced with greater hardship, refugees are resorting to various negative coping strategies to meet their basic needs. The most common strategy is spending savings.
The survey also shows that 50% of the syrian refugee families in Jordan reduce food quantity and 43% of them reduce food quality.
21,000 Syrian refugee households are currently receiving UNHCR cash assistance.
However, as of the end of 2014, over 9,860 households have been identified as eligible for UNHCR cash assistance but cannot be provided with support for lack of funds.
Fatima left Aleppo with her children in August 2013 after their home was damaged by shelling. She has not heard from her husband, who remained behind in Syria to care for his elderly parents, for more than eight months. She and her seven children currently live in a single room in the Jordanian capital Amman. There is barely enough space to lie down at night, and they have no means of heating the room.
Three months ago, Fatima began receiving cash assistance of 120 Jordanian dinars (169 USD) per month from UNHCR, which covers most of the cost of her rent.
The cash assistance also means that her 10-year-old son Ali no longer has to spend up to six hours a day selling clothes at a local market to make extra money. He is now attending school and dreams of becoming a doctor.
“As the conflict drags on and the most vulnerable refugees sink deeper into despair it is now the time for the international community to redouble its efforts to protect those in need. Without this support refugees have limited options on how to survive”.
Andrew Harper, UNHCR Representative to Jordan
Thanks to the International Relief and Development outreach and assessment teams, who conducted the majority of the interviews which underpin this report.
UNHCR is grateful for the critical financial support provided by donors to its refugee response in Jordan as well as those who have contributed to UNHCR programmes with unearmarked and broadly earmarked funds.
Donors who have contributed to the cash assistance programme in Jordan in 2014: (AECID (Spain), DFID (UK), ECHO, Japan, Kuwait & US.