The UK this week reaffirmed its commitment to supporting Syrian refugees in Jordan with a £55 million donation to UN humanitarian agencies over three years.
The funding will support UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF and will be primarily used for cash-based assistance to Syrian refugees as well as broader services for refugees and the host community.
The funding was announced by International Development Secretary Rory Stewart on a visit to Jordan this week.
Jordan is one of the countries most affected by the Syria crisis, currently hosting 755,000 refugees. That represents the second highest share of refugees per capita in the world, behind Lebanon. Syrian refugees in Jordan and the region are in an increasingly precarious position; around 70% are living below the poverty line, and the majority are in debt.
The UK assistance is especially welcome as funding for Syrian refugees has been declining as the conflict drags on. UNHCR’s 2019 Jordan appeal was only funded at 20% of $371.8 million as of end May. Reduced assistance due to funding cuts pushes refugee families further into a spiral of vulnerability, for example forcing parents to take kids out of school to work, reducing meals, limiting access to health, and raising the prospect of exploitation, abuse and dangerous onward journeys.
In Jordan, 84% of Syrian refugees live in urban areas, while 16% live in three refugee camps; 48% of refugees are children, and 4.5% are elderly. Over 125,000 work permits have been issued for Syrian refugees since 2016.
UNHCR uses cash-based interventions to provide protection, assistance and services to the most vulnerable. Cash helps the displaced meet a variety of needs, including access to food, water, healthcare, shelter, that allow them to build and support livelihoods, and to facilitate voluntary repatriation.
UNHCR cash programmes are cost-efficient, encouraging partnership and collaboration, and are backed by biometrics to counteract fraud. In Jordan, cash delivery is provided through ATMs, iris scans and the EyeCloud. Cash assistance can also directly benefit the local economy, helping relations with host communities. In Jordan, monthly cash assistance was distributed to 134,262 people in April of which 126,575 were Syrian refugees.