Syrian refugees in Jordan: fled the war, fighting to survive

Syrian refugees in Jordan: fled the war, fighting to survive

Amman, January 22, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris- Olga Mavrou

Rich countries in Europe, a union of 300,000,000 people, legalize the confiscation of the belongings of refugees and build fences to avoid them, scared of the impact they might bear fore their society and economy, while nations like Jordan, fighting by themselves with poverty and with a small population of just 9 million people offer their hospitality to almost 700,000 Syrian refugees and help them to rebuild their lives.

Refugees in Jordan are not in Paradise, but the fled the war and not all of them are willing (or able)  to risk  the perilous journey to Europe which after all is far from Paradise itself – through  rough sea, facing (if they make it)  fences and confiscations and quite a strong racist attitude.

With the conflict in Syria entering its sixth year,  Jordan is hosting 1.4 million Syrians, of whom 646,700 (2014)  are refugees. The vast majority (85% of them) prefer to try and live outside camps in some of the poorest areas of the country. A significant proportion are classified as extremely vulnerable. Almost 53 per cent are children. No matter how willing to offer their hospitality the Jordanians are, the cruel reality is that inevitably tension arises: who will get the job, who will drink the water, who will benefit from the “luxury” of a roof over his had….. Jordanian authorities are trying to provide for refugees but this has a serious impact  on the country’s  public finances and poor Jordanians feel somehow that they compete with equally unlucky people, but still foreigners.

In some municipalities refugees outnumber residents and this is causes even bigger tension. The rates of ynemplyement do not make it any easier, nor the access to public services and community resources. Sometimes the tension threatens with wider social unrest. The government is responding to the crisis and to a degree it is at least theoretically backed by international agencies,  yet everybody can feel it, and count it, and see it, or even simply deduct it with simple logic  that current life-saving humanitarian funding and programming are neither sustainable nor sufficient. There should be a more development-oriented approach and this means funding. Till now Jordan received only one third from the promised international help….

The  cost of not… building fences

Addressing the refugee problem in Jordan took  already 2,1 billion dollars to provide for

*energy needs



*drinking water and sanitation (90% of the population, Syrian and Jordanian, r buy drinking water from water tankers or shops, which is 20 to 46 times more expensive than using piped water)

*to offer transport

*to offer schooling for 120,000 Syrian children and  try to find ways to enrol 70,000 kids that remain outside any type of schooling

*cover health needs (40% of adult refugees have at least one chronic medical condition and the number of Syrian refugees accessing hospitals increased from 300 to 10,300 last year. The  outpatient visits by Syrian refugees increased from 68 in 2012 to 15,975 in 2013!)

*74% of refugees in urban areas are considered ‘vulnerable’ or extremely vulnerable’ and are completely reliant on food assistance

*legal issues also cost  (the total number of court cases involving  Syrians increased by 132% between 2011 and 2014)

*36 municipalities reported that public infrastructure and road maintenance have been negatively impacted by the sudden increase in population

Jordan is trying to facilitate Syrians to start a new life there. The primary aim is to ensure that the shocks they had or they are still facing do not lead them to a long-term deterioration in their  wellbeing,  and secondly they must be helped to build capacity to absorb future shocks and deal appropriately with related stresses. Being able to support your family is the biggest challenge fro a refugee and the only way to feel he really has a life. So the state is trying to:

*Rapidly expand employment and livelihood opportunities and strengthen the coping capacities of Syrians but also of vulnerable Jordanians who have been impacted by the crisis.

*Address social imbalances and strengthen social cohesion in Jordanian ommunities hosting large numbers of refugees

Nobody pays attention or at least his share

Yet to address all that, Jordan received less then a third of the expected international financial aid. The world community seems in denial, for as long as possible. But then desperate refugees risk in small boats and deep freezing waters  their (and their children’s) lives, finally reaching  wealthy Europe. They knock on European doors and say “hey!, they are killing us back home, we need a place to hide and a place to live”. Most of the refugees are not beggars, but people able to restart their lives if a job is available and if the richer nations are to share some of their wealth –not to mention the way this wealth was obtained. But Europeans and many wealthy nations  are more then  reluctant to open their doors or at least  fund the nations  who prefer not to build fences…..

See also: Refugee Crisis Analysis