Irish Red Cross attends meeting on systemic refugee crisis in Jordan

Irish Red Cross International Desk Officer Anna Marie O’Carroll was in Amman recently at a meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Jordan triggered by the Syria conflict. Anna Marie also visited Jordanian Red Crescent (JRC) distribution operations and the JRC hospital.

Now in its fifth year, an estimated 12.2 million people inside Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance and 7.6 million Syrians are internally displaced. Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan combined are hosting almost 4.1 million Syrian refugees of which 630,000 are registered Syrian refugees in Jordan. Some 700,000 Syrians had been living in Jordan prior to the crisis.

Many Syrians in Jordan have been cut off from their homes and livelihoods for years and face increasing vulnerability. Nearly 85% are settled out of camps in some of the poorest areas of the country, and a significant proportion are classified as ‘extremely vulnerable’. Almost 53% are children, 18% of whom are under five years of age.

There has been a significant reduction in funding for humanitarian programmes which is hampering the response of Jordan and its partners. With winter approaching, Syrian refugees are in grave danger as a consequence.

In responding to the crisis the JRC, supported by Red Cross Red Crescent partners has been playing a key role in meeting the critical humanitarian needs in the country. But the crisis has evolved significantly, even as the scope and the cost of the operation has continued to expand.

What started as a camp management operation with short-term, people-centred humanitarian assistance, has morphed into a protracted systemic crisis in which some of the poorest, most vulnerable Jordanians are sharing their local resources, services and infrastructure, with a growing population of refugees who are increasingly competing for shelter, schooling, water and other basic necessities.

Since the Ministry of Health’s decision in November 2014 that Syrian refugees must pay the same rates as non-insured Jordanians for public health services, there has been a significant reduction health access for Syrians.

While in camps health care is still more or less well covered free of charge, gaps in services are increasing due to funding shortfalls across aid organisations.

With no sign of the conflict in Syria abating the near future, it is expected that the majority of Syrian refugees in Jordan will remain for the foreseeable future.

The Government policy of strict control of refugee entry into Jordan is expected to remain unchanged in 2016 as is the Government’s policy of not allowing Syrian refugees to work.

The reduction in the number of people receiving food vouchers and a significant decrease in the value of the food vouchers, the inability to afford to pay for health services and insufficient funds to pay for adequate shelter will impact greatly on people’s health and wellbeing and will increase the risk of people adopting negative coping mechanisms.

In light of this, The JRC hosted the partnership meeting attended by over 40 representatives from national societies, the International Federation of the Red Cross Red & Crescent (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The meeting gave participants the chance to discuss the JRC’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2020, the Movement Country Plan in response to the Syria crisis, and the IFRC’s Emergency Appeal and Operational Plan for Jordan.

It involved detailed discussion on the humanitarian situation and provided an important platform for International Desk Officers to foster greater collaboration in particular among colleagues in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Irish Red Cross continues to appeal for funds in support of many national societies’ humanitarian responses on the migration trail.