Syrian refugees sliding into abject poverty: UN

Thursday, January 15, 2015
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres with a displaced Syrian family
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
Jordon: Large numbers of Syrian refugees are sliding into abject poverty, and at an alarming rate, due to the magnitude of the crisis and insufficient support from the international community, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres has stated.

He made the statement at the launch of a new UNHCR study, "Living in the Shadows," which reveals evidence of a deepening humanitarian crisis.

Conducted by UNHCR and International Relief and Development (IRD) the study is based on data from home visits with almost 150,000 Syrian refugees living outside of camps in Jordan in 2014.

According to the study, two-thirds of refugees across Jordan are now living below the national poverty line, and one in six Syrian refugee households is in abject poverty, with less than $40 per person per month to make ends meet.

UNHCR provides cash assistance to 14% of Syrian refugee population living outside the camps in Jordan. 

Gueterres said that even though this assistance helped avoid "some the most tragic consequences of the Syrian refugee crisis, the truth is that it is insufficient to guarantee a dignified life in Jordan as in Lebanon or any of the other neighboring countries."

Overall, the report's findings make it clear that any further reductions in the current levels of support will have immediate and serious consequences for Syrian refugees living in Jordan. The situation is particularly worrying for the most vulnerable populations, such as female-headed households and elderly refugees.

Um Ahmed, her husband and three children – two who are suffering from Cerebral Palsy, fled Syria in 2013.

They walked over desert carrying two children in their arms to reach safety. Now they live on cash assistance provided by aid agencies and they can only afford treatment for only one child at the time.

"I wish I could treat my children, I wish to see my children in better health, but we don't have the means of treating them as it's very expensive. I love my children very much and I accept them as they are but I wish I can afford better treatment for them," says Ahmed.

Jordan has a registered Syrian refugee population of 620,000, some 84 per cent of whom live outside camps.

UNHCR is providing monthly cash assistance to 21,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian families, or 14 per cent of the Syrian refugee population living outside camps. As of the end of 2014, over 10,000 additional Syrian refugee households have been identified as eligible for such assistance but, due to lack of funds, cannot be provided with support. -UNifeed
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