Jordan, a haven for refugees since the start of the Syria crisis in 2011, hosts the third highest number of Syrian refugees in the world. Most refugees live in cities, while others reside in camps such as Azraq and Zaatari.
Despite the strain of the refugee influx on Jordan’s economy, communities continue to live in relative harmony. However, life has recently become harder for refugees and vulnerable Jordanians due to COVID-19.
The EU is a significant aid contributor, supporting both refugees and host communities.
What are the needs?
According to the United Nations, 83% of Syrian refugees outside camps in Jordan live below the poverty line. Most Syrian families rely on humanitarian aid at a time of aid cuts and economic crisis, compounded by COVID-19.
On 30 March, the UN Refugee Agency and the World Bank launched the vulnerability assessment of refugees in Jordan conducted in and out of the camps during the second part of 2021. Preliminary results showed a worsening situation in terms of negative coping strategies, debt, chronic illness, and access to medical services.
In refugee camps, essential services have been maintained. Health safety measures were put in place to protect people from COVID-19.
However, urban refugees and host communities struggle to access basic services and earn an income. Instead of going to school, some refugee children are sent to work or get married at a young age.
Some 10,000 people are stranded in a no-go military zone on Jordan’s north-eastern border, in the informal settlement of Rukban. Its population consists mostly of Syrian women and children. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, these stranded people no longer have access to lifesaving health and nutrition services in Jordan.
With limited prospects of returning to Syria, refugees need sustainable solutions – including better access to social services, health care and economic opportunities – to become self-reliant.
How are we helping?
Since the beginning of the Syria crisis in 2011, the EU has channelled roughly €3.2 billion to Jordan through humanitarian, development and macro-financial assistance. Of this total, humanitarian aid amounts to over €404.5 million.
In 2022, the EU mobilised €12.5 million in humanitarian assistance to support health care, multi-purpose cash transfers, water and sanitation, education, and protection assistance.
We support people in Zaatari, Azraq, Emirati Jordanian camps and Rukban, but also Syrian and non-Syrian refugees who live outside of the camps. Providing essential services in villages and towns across the country also benefits vulnerable Jordanian families.
Various programmes address the specific needs of women and children, who make up more than 50% of the refugee population.
Since the first reported COVID-19 case in early March 2020, EU partners have closely monitored the epidemiological situation inside the refugee camps, under the Ministry of Health leadership. They have also stepped up prevention and preparedness measures and trained health staff.
The EU supports health interventions focused on immediate lifesaving, especially where refugees and vulnerable Jordanians struggle to access health services. Our assistance focuses on sexual and reproductive health care, and we also provide cash assistance for health.
During the pandemic, awareness campaigns have ensured that refugee families are protected and have access to hygiene products. Vaccination has taken place in the camps at an increasing pace. An estimated 73% of the eligible camp population had received at least 1 dose by the end of March 2022.
To address educational needs, EU-funded programmes ensure quality schooling for vulnerable children, including those with disabilities.
Innovative approaches are used to help out-of-school children find their way into the formal education system. The aim is to achieve inclusive education and an environment that systematically protects vulnerable children.
The EU also supports the UN Refugee Agency and a consortium of partner organisations to help refugees obtain and keep an official refugee status. It also helps them iron out legal issues.
Syrian refugees in Jordan without updated documentation are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The lack of official documents limits their freedom of movement. It prevents them from entering the labour market and accessing essential services such as healthcare and education.
The registration teams have found innovative ways of operating, resuming in-person appointments and combining these with remote registration with the help of new technologies and security procedures.
Mutual commitments exist between the EU and Jordan. They follow pledges made at the London conference in 2016 and the Brussels-Syria conferences that have taken place yearly since 2017.
The Brussels conferences have successfully mobilised international financial support for Syrians and their host communities, both inside Syria and in neighbouring countries.
Last updated: 10/05/2022
Picture: © European Union (photographer: Peter Biro)
Facts & figures
More than 760,000 refugees in Jordan:
- 674,000 from Syria
- 86,000 from other countries
EU humanitarian funding:
€12.5 million in 2022
€404.5 million to Syrian refugees and host communities since 2011