With Syrian refugee numbers in Jordan reaching close to 520,000 the pressure on the country and the humanitarian community is mounting. News about possible military intervention is seeing humanitarian actors scramble for contingency planning and expecting the worst; we need to be prepared if a refugee influx should occur. On a parallel front, however, projects are going ahead as normal.
The most recent of our activities in Voice is a joint project with Oxfam-GB in the areas of Ein El Basha and Baq’aa in the Balqaa governorate not too far from the capital Amman. These two areas are considered poverty pockets in Jordan, with populations of almost 94,000 in Baq’aa (a Palestinian refugee camp opened in 1968) and of almost 80,000 in Ein El Basha. Oxfam provides cash support as well as hygiene vouchers in those areas to the most vulnerable of Syrian refugees as well as from the host community. Also as part of the project, Oxfam’s team has formed community groups of both men and women in the respective areas; the members were voted for by the wider community to represent them in order to give feedback about Oxfam’s services and relay any concerns. As ARDD-Legal Aid, we have started working with these groups to deliver awareness raising sessions with regards to legal issues and provide psychosocial support.
The first step is knowing what the committees’ concerns are so that we deliver relevant information, and what we have noted is that many lack the right information about services and how to access them, causing many problems and frustrations for the refugees. A striking difference is the health system in Syria; where public healthcare is readily available at no charge to all citizens. In Jordan, Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR are entitled to free access to medical services in public hospitals, and otherwise through specialized organizations providing medical support to those who haven’t registered yet or are in the process of registering/renewing their registration certificates. Many complain of being asked to pay, being turned back, or resorting to bribes to be able to access free medical care.
The right information will ensure that no one is left frustrated, untreated, or overburdened with expenses. In addition to that, continued funding and humanitarian support from the international community is imperative for us as humanitarian actors and people in the field. Refugees leave our sessions equipped with more knowledge and information that they are eager to share, coupled with Oxfam’s support, their living conditions can improve, with the end goal of going back to Syria and rebuilding their homes and communities.
– Voice Team