When Syrian refugees have made their hazardous journey after being forced from their homes and familiar settings, their ordeal is not necessarily over when they reach security in Jordan. While safe, many risk exploitation and may even be charged for free services like food or shelter, taken advantage of as vulnerable refugees.
Many refugees feel trapped and voiceless and lack the means to understand and improve their situation. This is the situation UNHCR Jordan is tackling through its mass information initiatives. Refugees need proper actionable information that can guide good decisions: where to turn for help, how to avoid danger and combat fraud.
“Every refugee has a right to know. Communication with refugees is crucial. As a refugee, you need to understand what takes place around you, how to navigate. And you need to be able to voice your concerns”, says Andrew Harper, Head of UNHCR Jordan. “Recently at the border, a small child was walking up to me asking ‘can I go to school in Jordan?’ Information is key to manage your own situation.”
One of the most promising steps to improving refugee’s access to information and communication channels is a pilot being carried out by BBC Media Action in Zaatri camp and in refugee registration centres in Khalda and Irbid.
The BBC Media Action pilot uses drama, documentary and animation as well as info graphics to relay important messages for refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. The messages showcase topics such as what registering as a refugee means, health and education issues, and provide practical tips. The video is shown on large screens and sound systems in selected areas where refugees gather.
The pilot project uses high quality video recordings that not only target illiteracy but use the preferred choice of media of most Syrians, namely TV. UNHCR is launching a range of refugee communication activities under the banner “Talking with Refugees”.
The BBC pilot project is funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO).
Visit this link to learn more and view the videos.
By Peter-Bastian Halberg, Senior Mass Communication Expert, UNHCR Jordan