Jordan and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

A syrian refugee mother receives milk powder for her young infant

Jordan is one of few countries around the world that have highly prioritised the safety of their Syrian neighbours. Jordan shares a border with Syria, so they have taken responsibility in helping Syrians escape the brutal civil war and violence that has come with it. Jordan has taken in 1,265,000 refugees, 657,422 of whom are registered with the UNHCR. This means that over 50% of refugees are unaccounted for by the UN. While Jordan is home to Zaatari, a refugee camp that is considered to many as the fourth largest city in Jordan, the overwhelming majority (78%) of registered refugees are located in urban areas. What’s worse is that 86% of Syrian refugees in Jordan’s urban areas live well below the regional poverty line.

Jordan has taken in the third highest number of refugees, behind Turkey and Lebanon. The World Bank reports that the influx of refugees in Jordan has cost the country around USD $2.5 billion per year, which amounts to around 6% of Jordan’s GDP. International aid that was promised to the country in support of the refugee crisis has fallen short and caused the public debt to grow to 90% of the GDP. This has severely crippled the economy.

While Jordan has been very welcoming to Syrian refugees, the government was forced to turn its border regions with Syria and Iraq into closed military zones in June after an attack on a Jordanian military post. The influx of refugees has slowed, but there is still an overwhelming number of refugees who still rely on support within Jordan’s borders.

There is no current plan in action for Syrians to resettle, so many refugees rely on the help of aid organisations and charities. IRT supports the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation and the Comboni Missionary Sisters who have dedicated their hard work and time to running the Italian Hospital in Amman and Karak Hospital to assist Syrian refugees. Most Syrians who seek refuge in Jordan end up living in poor conditions, whether it is in a refugee camp, or temporary housing in Jordan’s urban centres. These environments are conducive to contracting diseases and can leave them at risk of malnourishment. The Sisters mainly help women and children as 50.7% of Syrian refugees in Jordan are women. Many women who are pregnant need as much support as possible, and the Sisters provide that for them.

There are 174,571 ‘persons of concern’ listed by the UNHCR in Amman. The Dominican Sisters of the Presentation recognise that many of these people indeed are Syrian refugees, and that they need proper medical care. The Sisters support the mothers and children by providing them with milk for the babies, as mothers are often too sick to provide safe and healthy milk for the children.

Karak is located in Southern Jordan, further away from the Syrian border, so it is often forgotten about by humanitarian aid. Still, over 20,000 refugees reside in the region, and need just as much support as those in larger cities. The Comboni Missionary Sisters provide necessary medical care to many pregnant women, as well as refugees who have contracted illnesses from their very poor living conditions.

The media may focus on the West’s involvement in the Syrian Refugee Crisis, but it is important to remember that there are millions of refugees living in countries close to Syria that desperately need help. The Jordanian government is trying to find a way to alleviate the struggles of refugees, but have yet to find a solution. In the meantime, it is up to humanitarian aid to support the human beings who have fled war and conflict. IRT continues to support the Sisters and hospitals in this time of need.

Read more about the hospitals in Amman and Karak.

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