Money dictates all for those in need – Jordan Refugee Crisis

Ten years after the start of the Syrian war, the destruction has  dragged along and the impact has not only been devastating to Syria, but also to Jordan, which saw an influx of Syrian refugees – birthing the now extreme refugee crisis.

In an attempt to flee the war, Syrians find refuge in neighboring country Jordan, with the latest census approximating that there are 1.3 million Syrians so far. However, although Jordan has been somewhat of a haven to those in need, it has its down sides with Jordan struggling economically. This economic hurdle is evident. Central government debt was over 106 percent in 2021 and a quarter of the population was unemployed. Currently 19.5 percent of refugees live in camps, mainly in Zaatari and Azraq, with the remaining living in concentrated urban areas. Notably healthcare, a decent living standard and employment opportunities are inaccessible. This means that many are unable to afford medical treatments, with 80 percent of the Jordan/Syrian refugee population falling below the poverty line.

The question of whether the conditions of the refugees in Jordan is better than in Syria is questionable. Azraq, described as the “least desirable” of the two camps, has a top-down system of management, with high security and remote location that leaves Syrians in limbo. Children account for over 50% of the population, with over 332,000 living in camps and many having never left the parimeter. This number grows monthly, with an average of 200 children born every month. These hazardous, inadequate, overcrowded conditions are no place to raise children, with 60 percent of families living in extreme poverty. Although there are a rapid number of births in these camps, many cannot afford to access medical care and treatments, even though they are confronted with complex medical challenges in the camps.

In 2013, the government provided free access to primary health care and hospitals. However, the generosity of the Jordan government was short lived. Quickly, the public sector was overwhelmed. A year later, in 2014 Syrians were made to pay Jordanian rate to access healthcare, which – with the rising poverty – was essentially not an option for many.

This economic crisis does not only affect the refugees within camps but also the ones living in concentrated, unsafe accommodation in the rural areas. In 2021, unemployment was 25 percent with youth unemployment at a record 48.1 percent. In Jordan – overall access to employment opportunities was limited with only 135,000 work permits issued. This restricted independence of many Syrians, perpetuating their dependence on humanitarian assistance. If authorities found Syrians in informal work, they would risk losing access to civil documents or their childcare arrangements. 

 

In an attempt to combat the financial factor restricting access to medical healthcare, IRT support the established Italian hospitals which provide lifesaving treatment and affordable healthcare. This then means that families can continue to use their minimal earnings on other necessities such as food and shelter. However, I believe that the government should do more to try to allow the refugees to have more independence by providing them with more job opportunities and more permits to work out of the camps as it is devastating that there is a perception that having work permits would limit assistance. I believe it is in the governments best interest to allow more refugees to work as surely more people working would boost Jordan’s struggling economy.