Since 2012, Japan has been one of UNHCR’s main donors with a combined contribution of $31.4m in support of 629,000 Syrian women, men, boys and girls in Jordan. Underpinning the longstanding support to refugees operations globally, the contribution to the Jordan operation has saved the lives of thousands of people through providing access to health care, financial assistance, winter support and core relief items for those who arrived with little more than the clothes they are wearing.
2015 in particular has been an incredibly tough year for Syrians families in Jordan, with an assessment carried out which revealed that 86% of Syrian refugees sheltered outside of camps are living under the Jordanian poverty line. That means families are surviving on less than $3.20 a day. As a consequence, we know that 80% of those families are using crisis or emergency coping strategies just to survive, including skipping meals, unable to send their children to school, and even relying on their children to work in difficult conditions. The impact on families is enormous, and a far cry from the lives they fled in search of safety once war took hold.
In 2015 alone, the people of Japan’s generosity has continued to help those most vulnerable families with US$2.7m to cash-based assistance and US$3.7m to health care for Syrian refugees in Jordan, making it one of the biggest donors to our operation. UNHCR Representative, Andrew Harper, is proud of the impact of the cash programme, “the financial support to families is ever more critical as winter closes in and temperatures drop to freezing overnight. The UNHCR system focuses not only on delivering assistance with dignity, but with efficiency, with overhead costs reduced to 0.58% and using iris scan software in a world first in refugee programming.”
Nami Asaka, the head of the UNHCR office in Irbid, the second city in Jordan and temporary home to 142,000 Syrians has witnessed this support first hand both at work and as Japanese national, ‘though geographically located far away, Japan is receiving asylum seekers from Syria and also has the responsibility as part of the international community to provide humanitarian support to those in need’. Without the support, many Syrians would face stark decisions. Sheika, a Syrian mother alone in Jordan with her son, depends on the UNHCR financial assistance which provides $70 per month to cover rent, ‘without it, I would have to return to Syria.’
UNHCR is grateful to the people of Japan for the generous contribution since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. This has allowed UNHCR to maintain support to Syrians, including for registration, protection, shelter and infrastructure, non-food items, recreation activities and educational courses and winterization.