10 Facts About the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan
The crisis in Syria has become one of the most complicated humanitarian operations for the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP). More than 6.7 million people are displaced inside the country, with thousands more forced from their homes every day. These 10 facts explain why the situation is so dire, and how we’re stepping in to help.
1. Since the start of the conflict in Syria in 2011, Jordan has shouldered the impact of a massive influx of Syrian refugees. Today, Syrian refugees account for more than 10 percent of Jordan’s population, placing immense pressure on the country’s over-stretched resources at one of the most difficult economic periods in its history.
2. Around 650,000 Syrians – that’s more than the entire population of Memphis, Tennessee – have registered with UNHCR in Jordan (the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees). The vast majority of these refugees live in cities and towns instead of camps, which means they must find a way to pay for things like rent and transportation. But only a limited number of them have work permits, so most of these families still rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic needs.
3. Since July 2016, the Jordanian government has granted more than 100,000 work permits to Syrian refugees, allowing them to work legally and earn an income for their families.
4. More than 10,000 Syrians remain stranded at the northeastern border between Jordan and Syria in a precarious, informal settlement called Rukban. The U.N. World Food Programme, along with other U.N. agencies and NGOs, has been providing food assistance to this population. But humanitarian access, remains difficult due to security risks and border closures.
5. In November 2018, a convoy of humanitarian agencies, including the U.N. World Food Programme, reached Rukban with lifesaving food and supplies for the first time. Today, the U.N. World Food Programme is concerned that conditions in the camp have deteriorated further, with a number of children reported to have died of preventable causes. Despite the dire situation, humanitarian organizations have limited access or means to provide basic supplies and services.
6. Though most Syrian refugees in Jordan live in host communities, the country is now home to the second largest refugee camp in the world, known as Zaatari. The camp first opened in 2012 less than 10 miles from the Syrian border and has since become Jordan’s 4th largest “city.” Today, roughly 77,000 Syrian refugees live there, in rows of prefabricated shelters provided by international relief agencies. Now, the first cases of COVID-19 have been reported at Zaatari and at another camp, Azraq.
7. In Jordan, all eligible Syrian refugees receive a monthly cash or food voucher from the U.N. World Food Programme, which enables them to purchase food items in any of our partner shops throughout the country. Families in refugee camps also receive fresh bread. The U.N. World Food Programme is currently providing food assistance to nearly 500,000 refugees in Jordan.
8. Half of all Syrian refugees in Jordan are children. To help keep kids healthy and in the classroom, the U.N. World Food Programme provides nutritious school meals – and healthy snacks – that boost enrollment and attendance rates.
9. In Spring 2016, the U.N. World Food Programme launched its first “Healthy Kitchens Initiative” in the Zaatari camp, in which Syrian women are employed to cook fresh, healthy school lunches for the camp’s boys and girls using locally grown vegetables, grains and fruit. These homegrown school meals provide children with the right nutrition and energy to focus in the classroom while supporting local food producers and providing jobs to primarily female-headed households.
10. By distributing cash and food vouchers instead of traditional rations, the U.N. World Food Programme provides a fresher and more diverse diet to Syrian refugees while supporting the country’s economy. And to improve access to food assistance, we’ve expanded our ATM network, allowing refugees to access cash through more than 800 ATMs around Jordan with their assigned e-cards.
In July of this year, the U.N. World Food Programme had injected roughly $14 million dollars into Jordan’s economy via its cash assistance to Syrian refugees. To date, this figure is more than $600 million.
Jordan’s exceptional solidarity with the 1.3 million Syrians it hosts – more than half of whom are refugees – has tested the country’s resilience over time. While humanitarian assistance is acting as a buffer, food security among Syrian refugees in Jordan remains precarious. You can help by sending a box of food today.
Check out our Syria hub for stories and stats on the latest operations.