Syrian refugees in Jordan

Above: Omar*, 15, does his school homework in his family caravan in Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees, Jordan. Photo: Jordi Matas / Save the Children

Above: Omar*, 15, does his school homework in his family caravan in Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees, Jordan. Photo: Jordi Matas / Save the Children

The Syrian conflict has been active for more than a decade, displacing more than 55% of the country’s population, according to UNHCR. The scale of the crisis has impacted on nearby countries, now home to large populations of Syrian refugees.

 As of November 2020, there were an estimated 1.3 million Syrian refugees residing in Jordan, with over 80% living in communities rather than camps.

 The high cost of living, depleted savings, limited access to work and income opportunities, and decrease in humanitarian assistance has caused families to prioritise household income for survival.

 COVID-19 has only made things tougher. According to research from Save the Children Jordan, over 95% of Syrian households and 90% of Jordanian households reported a decrease in their income due to COVID-19. Unemployment rates have risen to around 24% while female labour force participation rates remain chronically low.

Jordan has witnessed a spike in gender-based and domestic violence rates during the past year as a result of the economic crisis and the stressful effects of COVID-19 lockdown measures, combined with prevailing social and gender norms.

Children are particularly at risk  – if their families are struggling to make ends meet, they may be forced out of school and into the workforce, or into early marriage. COVID-19 has also closed schools, increasing the risk of drop-out, especially among girls and children with disabilities.

The AHP Response

In response to the impacts of COVID-19, the Australian government has allocated $2.5 million to an AHP response for Syrian refugees in Jordan, focusing on refugee children who are currently not in school.

This is the second AHP response in Jordan: an earlier three-year humanitarian package was delivered in response to the Syria crisis across Jordan and Lebanon.

A consortium of Australian NGOs, led by Save the Children Australia with CARE Australia, Plan Australia and local partner Nour Al Hussein Foundation/Institute for Family Health will implement the 12-month response.

Activities will focus on improving access to education and health services for young people and their families, access to livelihoods and psychosocial support.

The program will promote women and girls’ participation in public life, engage men and boys in transforming social norms to combat gender-based violence and gender inequality, and support out-of-school adolescents, including children with disabilities, to return to learning. Adolescents and their families will have access to career counselling, vocational training, and financial literacy lessons to support them in earning a livelihood.