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. More than 6.2 million people are displaced inside the country, and 6,000 more are forced from their homes every day. These 10 facts explain why the situation is so dire.
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 over 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. More than 670,000 Syrians have registered with UNHCR in Jordan (the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees). The vast majority of these refugees—81 percent—live in cities and towns instead of camps. This means they must find a way to pay for things like rent and transportation. However, only a limited number of refugees have work permits, so most of these families 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. Right now, around 40,000 Syrians are stranded at the northeastern border between Jordan and Syria in an 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. Humanitarian access, however, 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 78,000 Syrian refugees live there in rows of prefabricated shelters provided by international relief agencies.
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 WFP’s 204 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 500,000 refugees in Jordan.
8. Half of all Syrian refugees in Jordan are children. To help keep these children healthy and in the classroom, the U.N. World Food Programme provides nutritious school meals 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. As of July 2016, the U.N. World Food Programme had injected roughly $581 million into Jordan’s economy.
Jordan’s exceptional solidarity with the 1.3 million Syrians it hosts 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.