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Jordan Faces Shortfall in Aid to Support 1.4 Million Syrian Refugees

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Syrian refugees walk the street at Zaatari refugee camp near Mafraq, Jordan, 14 March. Jordan officials report international aid continues to fall short of what the country needs to host 1.4 million Syrian refugees. (photo: CNS/Jamal Nasrallah, EPA) 

06 May 2015 – By Dale Gavlak

AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — International aid continues to fall short of what Jordan needs to host 1.4 million Syrian refugees, Jordanian officials reported, saying the number represents the equivalent of the United States hosting 60 million refugees.

With no end in sight to the Syrian conflict, now in its fifth year, officials are calling the situation critical. So far this year, Jordan has received only 7.2 percent of $2.9 billion needed for services to Syrian refugees and host communities.

Planning Minister Imad Fakhoury urged the international community to do its part, warning the country may have to restrict entry to Syrians if the crisis increases unemployment and poverty among its own citizens.

Syrian refugees now make up 20 percent of the kingdom’s population, Fakhoury said. However, only about 630,000 Syrians are registered with the U.N. refugee agency, he told reporters in Amman on 30 April.

“You can count on Jordan, but please don’t leave us alone in that effort,” Fakhoury said at the end of a recent visit by six U.N. agencies to view the situation on the ground.

“If we are left alone, then we will have to make very difficult decisions about our national security with a priority to our citizens, and the world can’t blame us,” he added.

Today, Jordan is the world’s third-largest host of refugees, including some 208,000 Iraqis in addition to Syrians, Palestinians, Yemenis, Libyans, Sudanese and Somalis.

In March, the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land urged the international community to “intervene in alleviating the desolation” of Syrian refugees in their “desperate situation.” It also expressed concern over cuts in support provided by humanitarian groups, including the international Catholic aid agency, Caritas, due to a lack of funds.

“Our projection is around $17 million and, for the first quarter of the year, we have received about 50 percent of this amount,” Omar Abawi, emergency program manager of Caritas Jordan, told Catholic News Service.

“But compared with 2014 and past years, it’s a real gap because it was more than 50 percent” at this time, said Abawi. “Funding for health services have yet been received as planned.”

As of February, Caritas Jordan had helped more than 91,000 Syrian refugee households, the equivalent of nearly 452,000 individuals, who had registered with the Catholic relief organization since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. Caritas works solely among the majority of Syrian refugees who live in Jordanian communities and not those sheltering in U.N. camps where they already receive U.N. assistance. There are numerous other church-related agencies assisting Syrian refugees in Jordan, both in the community and in the camps.

Such cuts to services by the U.N. and charities include reducing the amounts provided for food assistance vouchers or eliminating them entirely. Also, refugees must now pay for health care that was once provided free to Syrian refugees by the Jordanian government.

U.N. agencies have limited aid to the neediest among the refugees, leaving many without basic subsistence.





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Tags: Syria Refugees Jordan Economic hardships