South Jordan - the forgotten corner of the Syrian crisis

by Villads Zahle Danish Refugee Council | Danish Refugee Council (DRC) - Denmark
Tuesday, 1 October 2013 14:46 GMT

Photo by: Villads Zahle, Danish Refugee Council, Karak Jordan

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Thousands of journalists have visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. However, 80% of the refugees in the country are trying to survive in expensive and inadequate shelters across the country. In cooperation with European Commission's Department of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is providing assistance to more than 10.000 vulnerable beneficiaries in the impoverished Southern regions of Jordan, where more than 20.000 refugees reside. As winter approaches, their needs are more urgent than ever.

With more than 500.000 registered refugees, and an unknown number remaining unregistered, Jordan is hosting the second largest population of Syrian refugees in the region. The approximately 100.000 refugees in the Zaatari camp, fully dependent on external aid, remain the center of humanitarian attention, but 80% of the refugees in Jordan are spread across the country. In South Jordan, the influx of refugees is stretching the infrastructure and capacities of the low income Governorates of Karak and Maan.

A joint DRC/ECHO delegation recently returned from Maan and Karak. where they visited refugee families to assess their needs. “The region of South Jordan is receiving more refugees than attention. The displaced population is extremely vulnerable and DRC is one of the very few agencies offering assistance there. Many households remain unregistered and therefore have limited access to assistance; others are dealing with serious life-threatening health issues; most are living in inadequate, over-priced accommodation, often facing the threat of eviction; and many don’t have enough to feed their children. Through our partnership with DRC we have been able to assist 10,000 of these people in South Jordan. But with the continued influx of refugees, limited local capacity and the looming winter season, we are expecting, and preparing for, more challenges,” says Carlos Afonso, ECHO expert for Jordan.

In order to balance efforts and avoid tensions, DRC and ECHO assist Syrian refugees and members of the hosting communities in Karak and Maan. To date, 10.000 vulnerable Syrians and Jordanians have received cash assistance and individual information and counseling. “We are assisting refugees directly as well as working to ensure their access to relevant services and following up on their cases. Whether it’s families with newborn babies living in poor inadequate accommodation or even crowded tents as winter approaches, or elderly and weak refugees suffering life-threatening health issues, unable to access hospitals and without money to buy medicine, or refugees unable to pay for a trip to Amman to access or renew registration – the needs are there and increasing,“ says Yasar Al–Ajlouni, DRC Project Officer.

Through the open office in Karak as well as regular home visits in both Karak and Maan DRC staff is in close dialogue with a large part of the refugees in Karak and Maan. “The refugees in South Jordan have lost relatives, homes and belongings and have been though several displacements within Syria, across the region and in Jordan, and without the assistance of ECHO and DRC they could face yet another displacement. They are out of resources physically, mentally and financially and with no conclusion to the Syrian crisis in sight they will remain displaced for years to come. There is no question we must continue and expand our response,” says Yasar Al–Ajlouni.

DRC is currently providing emergency aid to half a million Syrian refugees every month inside Syria, and in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. ECHO is funding g DRC activities throughout the region.