CARE: Majority of Syrian, Iraqi refugees in Jordan living with less assistance, more debt

Syrian and non-Syrian refugees living in Jordan are facing a decrease in humanitarian aid and an increase in debt. Almost two-thirds of Syrian and non-Syrian refugees say their ability to access assistance has deteriorated over the past year, suggesting a decline in basic humanitarian assistance. A new research conducted by CARE International has revealed that women are carrying the heaviest burden, nine years into the Syria crisis that has severely impacted neighboring countries.

Research conducted in several poverty pockets of Jordan showed that, while all surveyed populations for this year’s Annual Urban Assessment (AUA) reported high levels of debt, the highest percentage of people reliant on debt to cover income gaps was among the Syrian refugee population with 72% of Syrian refugees relying on debt to cover income gaps.

On the other hand, Iraqi refugees reported the largest income-expenditure gap of all surveyed populations. In order to meet their basic needs, all populations primarily reported borrowing money, while less than 2 percent relied on taking children out of school for work, child labor, begging, or marrying a daughter off early.

Women and girls across all nationalities and of different ages remain vulnerable to financial pressures, separation from family members, and various threats of violence. Female heads of household face increased pressure while taking on new roles, ranging from solely providing for their family to managing household budgets, in addition to their traditional role of caring for their children. This leads to increased levels of psychological distress, according to reports by Syrian women heading their households. Consequently, the correlation between economic insecurity and psychological stress applies disproportionately to Syrian refugee women who are heads of household.

CARE’s 2019 AUA found that more Syrian women and men participated in the labor market in 2019 than in previous years: 74 percent of Syrian men and 26 percent of Syrian women report earning their family’s income in 2019 compared with 60 percent and 14 percent in 2018, respectively. All refugee populations, however, reported earning less income from work, whether informal or formal, in 2019 than in previous years.

“The Syria crisis has pushed more women to take on traditionally male roles and has forced them into the labor market. It is vital that we now empower and support them during their transition to into these new roles” says Ammar Abu Zayyad, CARE Country Director in Jordan.

When it comes to education, access to primary education remains a challenge for all refugee populations in Jordan. Across all refugee populations, financial constraints limit children’s access to education. Though more school-aged Syrian children report attending school this year than last, one third of Syrian refugee children in Jordan are still not enrolled in either formal or informal educational systems.

“Some figures are shocking and show how deep the crisis is. We must ensure that children, many of whom have experienced so much hardship, violence and displacement, are protected and educated, so that the future generation is not lost.” adds Abu Zayyad.

Twenty-nine percent of Syrian respondents reported financial constraints, especially transport, as the main reason that one or more of their children are not in school, while 21 percent of them reported that children must to work to help support the family. This year’s AUA saw a sharp increase in Iraqi children out of school: 44 percent in 2019 compared with 18 percent in 2018. In fact, Iraqi refugees reported the highest total percentage of out of school children, among all surveyed populations. This can be attributed to the same growing challenges all refugee populations face when seeking access to education: increased overcrowding in schools, greater financial challenges, and less monthly income from work.

The research data was collected in mid-2019, through a mixed methodology tracking the needs and primary coping strategies of Syrian refugees, non-Syrian refugees, and Jordanian host communities.

The research was based on more than 2,000 beneficiaries of CARE programs 1,286 Syrian refugees, 347 Iraqi refugees and refugees of other nationalities, and 447 Jordanian citizens, all living in poverty pockets in Amman, Irbid, Mafraq and Zarqa governorates.

Source: Jordan News Agency