Jordan has taken in over a million refugees since the beginning of Syria’s Civil War six years ago. Even before this, Jordan has had a rich history of taking in refugees, from Circassians more than 100 years ago to Palestinians to Iraqis during the second Gulf War. Though not all refugees coming to Jordan receive attention and aid equally.
The Sudanese, Yemeni, and Somali populations often fall through the cracks. According to the UNHCR, there are 10,000 registered refugees from these groups living in Jordan. Due to the lack of data on the population, however, the number is likely higher. Overshadowed by the larger presence of Syrians and Iraqis, these “displaced minorities” have a tougher time meeting their basic needs, often having to wait months or even a year before the UNHCR can make home visits.
CRP recently hired a researcher to help us better understand the size and needs of these refugee communities in Amman. “Of the group that our researcher looked at, around 43% are receiving assistance from the UN, but it might only be enough to cover their rent and leave them with $15 to spare for the rest of the month,” says CRP’s Executive Director, Amanda Lane. “And they’re not allowed to work and they live in really cramped and dilapidated housing. So, whatever money they have is depleted.”
Currently, CRP distributes food vouchers to the Sudanese community. However, the neighborhood is already highly underserved by aid organizations and CRP’s funding is limited. We are exploring opening a new center sometime in the future. As we did for Iraqi and Syrian refugees, CRP will start with food assistance, and hopefully expand to trauma-relief services.
“Food is always the first step and the first way people access us. But we’re going to have to find the funds to be able to open some kind of satellite center,” says Amanda.
One of the most striking things we discovered in the assessment is that malnutrition is common within the community. Children are particularly at risk. Few families can afford much more than rice and bread. Vegetables, proteins, and even beans are too expensive to be viable dietary options.
Once the funds for food are obtained, CRP can start implementing programs such as those we have in Hashemi Shamali, like education, and trauma solutions. We also found that illiteracy rates are high in these communities, especially among women.
If parents do manage to send their children to school, their kids often face harassment due to the color of their skin, which makes it much more tempting for teens to drop out in search of illegal employment.
The assessment spotted difficulties women face trying to find activities for their children, because they often get bullied at parks and in public. Forcing the women to stay inside and unable to search for employment.
Although, most of the refugees interviewed, said they would wait to eventually be resettled, one expressed her sense of hopelessness in Jordan. “Going back to my country might mean that I would die at once,” she said. “While due to the lack of money and job opportunities, I am dying here on a daily basis with my kids.”
We’re now revisiting our original approach. CRP is 11 years old, and in that time we’ve managed to cultivate a thriving community center in Hashemi Shamali. As we look towards the future, the priority will continue to stay true to our original goal.
“Now we’re starting to think, ‘okay is our goal to reach as many families as possible or is our goal to reach the very, very, most needy?’ That’s kind of what we’re looking at for that community,” says Amanda. “We need to be really identifying the people who need it most.”
This week we have an incredible opportunity to help us reach this goal. For every new monthly donor who signs up, or current monthly donor who increases their donation, a group of anonymous donors will give us $100. Just like that. So please, sign up as a monthly donor today.