Figures to better understand how the war in Syria is affecting the Palestinian refugees in Jordan
The war in Syria doesn't only affect the Syrian people. It also affects the thousands of Palestinian who have been living there as refugees for decades, many of whom have been forced to abandon the country because of the emergency situation and once again take refuge in nearby countries, such as Jordan.
All we need are a few figures to shed light on the scope of this crisis:
- More than 100,000 people have lost their lives since the start of the clashes.
- 6.8 million Syrians have been affected by the violence.
- More than 2.9 million people have fled to the neighbouring countries for refuge.
- 10.8 million people need humanitarian assistance
How does the war in Syria affect the Palestinian refugees in Jordan?
Many of these people who managed to leave Syria are Palestinian refugees, most of whom have taken refuge in Lebanon and Jordan. This latter country hosts 2,070,973 refugees officially registered in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA)
There are five main facts that help to grasp how the war in Syria is affecting the Palestinian refugees in Jordan:
- The war in Syria has halted improvements in the living conditions of the refugees in Jordan.
The majority of Palestinian refugees in Jordan have citizenship and enjoy the same services as other citizens. Until now, they have not suffered from formal discrimination, as they do in other countries. Despite this, around 132,000 registered refugees and an unknown number of unregistered refugees who moved to Jordan from Gaza in 1967 do not have citizenship.
This is compounded by the fact that almost 14,300 more refugees have had to flee from the conflict in Syria, most of them women and children who are now facing a second displacement. Last year, the government of Jordan announced a policy restricting the entry of these refugees from Syria because of the high influx.
- The new refugees are in a situation of extreme vulnerability.
Around 80% of the refugees registered with the UNRWA in Jordan are women, children and the elderly; 7% have some kind of disability and 21% have a chronic illness. In this country, 99% live in shelter communities, where 84% of them pay rent. Only 188 Palestinian refugees fleeing from Syria live in Cyber City, the facility near Ramtha designated by the government. A large number of refugees who have managed to get out of Syria to reach Jordan live in extreme poverty, and their current unstable legal situation creates difficulties in civil processes, access to services and employment. As always, the most vulnerable are the children.
- There are not enough services. In Jordan, the UNRWA schools have more than 2,000 new students and some schools have to have two shifts. The number of patients cared for in the UNRWA clinics in these two countries has also multiplied: in 2013, the healthcare centres provided more than 17,000 free appointments to the Palestinian refugees from Syria. To handle this hugechallenge, the UNRWA has had to adapt its facilities, hire more staff and purchase furniture.
- The Palestinian refugees coming from Syria in Jordan are "double refugees". All of this is magnified by the fact that these people are "double refugees", people who had to flee Palestine and are now once again forced to abandon their homes and seek refuge in other countries.
- The situation in Syria is not improving. The forecasts are for the number of displaced Palestinian refugees registered with the UNRWA in Jordan to reach 20,000 by the end of 2014.
Aid from the UNRWA and Probitas to the Palestinian refugees in Jordan
Through its emergency response programme, the UNRWA provides them with humanitarian aid and social and protection services. They also have access to the UNRWA's educational and healthcare services, which has stretched the facilities and staff to their limit. As stated by the director of the URNWA, Raquel Martí: "We are working to expand all our humanitarian and assistance services in view of this emergency. One of our priorities is to welcome the children into our schools and provide them with the healthcare treatments that they need, in addition to trying to meet the basic needs of these 14,000 people who have fled from barbarism and once again have to rebuild a new life in a new country and in an unsustainable legal situation."
The grain of sand provided by Probitas to alleviate this situation by partnering with the UNRWA is a programme that has been underway since the end of last year to strengthen the healthcare services for the Palestinian refugees in Jordan. Its purpose is to strengthen the diagnostic capacity of the laboratories at certain healthcare centres in order to improve the prevention, detection and monitoring of diabetes, a chronic, non-contagious illness that is one of the ten leading causes of death in the country.
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