Twenty Nine year-old Hala is living a difficult life; she had to leave her country, Syria, and seek refuge in Jordan as a result of the conflict. Her husband was killed in the fighting and she had to leave with nothing but her six children, the oldest of whom is 14. Hala found a place to live in East Amman, which can barely be called a home; it’s made up of one bedroom and is in a very bad condition. She has to pay rent of 200 JDs per month, not including water and electricity bills. Without a source of income, the bills and rent due are piling up, she barely has anything to feed herself and her children. She is awaiting registration with UNHCR, that way she will be entitled to some assistance and food vouchers that they so desperately need, but she had already waited a month for her appointment.
Hala called ARDD-Legal Aid’s emergency line; she was so upset that we could barely understand what she says over her sobbing. Hala explained her situation and that she cannot get any assistance from any organization without her UNHCR registration certificate; she has nothing to prove that she is a refugee. Hala said: “I don’t care about the bad living conditions and all that I am going through, what is killing me is that I cannot feed my children. A few days ago my children and I hadn’t found anything to eat all day, so I looked out the window to find a bag of bread that my neighbors had placed on the street; it had become hard and not suitable to eat. I sent my oldest child to go and get it; it was dry but at least clean enough to eat. I looked in the kitchen and found some tomato paste in the cupboard, so I spread it on the bread to make it softer and I gave it to my children to eat. What else could I have done? They have school the next day and I have to find something to feed them.”
People do not know how difficult it is to be a refugee, not only because they have to leave behind everything and go into an unknown future, but because the personal stories and hardships that each refugee goes through is different than the other. Sometimes the situation they end up in is even more painful than what they have left behind; a life of refuge is a struggle to find some sort of stability which involves many challenges, starting with attaining a UNHCR registration certificate!
The fact that many services and assistance offered to refugees is tied with having registered and having a valid UNHCR registration certificate, makes waiting for it a dire problem. Unfortunately, this pushes many refugees to fall into criminal issues like being prone to exploitation or fraud. Some even fall into the trap of giving up some of their possessions to fasten the process and reduce the waiting time to attain the registration.