Syria crisis: Dignity for Syrian refugees in Jordan
Every time I check the UNHCR webpage where all the newest data, reports and statistics are gathered and updated around the clock, the number of Syrian refugees has risen.
The people behind the numbers
One of these numbers is Hiba, whose children spend their lives confined to a tiny apartment, apart from when they go to a psycho-social support workshop run by Save the Children and ECHO.
Reem is another mother whose name lies behind those numbers, waiting to be registered with UNHCR. She tells me she can no longer count all the people she’s lost, among them her husband and cousins.
There is Roqaya, who lost her three sisters. And then there is Rahma.
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Save the Children and ECHO are providing Rahma’s family, as well as more than 2,000 other families, with cash grants totalling 250JOD (350USD) over a period of three months.
It is not a large amount, but it covers some of their day-to-day expenses. Most spend it on blankets, heaters, healthcare and groceries.
“Last week, I spent half the cash on vegetables, medicine and diapers, Rahma tells me.
She lives in a two-bedroom flat in Zarqa, northern Jordan, with her husband Mohamad, her children and grandchildren. There are 23 people living in the flat.
The children come first
“Everyday we cry, talk about old times in Syria, watch the news, pray. And then we sleep.” Rahma says.
There is no heating, and Mohamad has diabetes but the family can’t afford to buy him medicine. They need to prioritize and the children come first.
The remaining stock of medicine they have is stored in a black plastic bag, hanging by the window. My colleague scribbles down the name of the pills Mohamad is supposed to be taking.
The needs are big and Rahma’s family is just one of many. Mohamad explains that no need is bigger than another. “The most important thing is being safe. You can cope with being hungry and thirsty as long as you’re safe,” says Mohammad.
And their family is in safety. Now there are simply new challenges, such as making a living and come to terms with one’s identity as a refugee with an uncertain future.
Material things don’t matter
Like Rahma and Mohamad, most Syrians I meet fled after hastily deciding that their lives were in grave danger and that they had to leave, no matter what. Nearly all crossed the border with no possessions at all, perhaps a few personal valuables in a bag.
When you have put your life on the line to escape from war, material things don’t matter anymore, all that matters is ensuring that your children are out of harm’s way.
Today, between 7,000 and 12,000 refugees are crossing the border into Syria’s five neighbouring countries every day. The majority cross during night time, hoping the darkness will keep them safe.
No end in sight
What is frightening is that the Syria refugee crisis won’t go away in the next month. Nor will it in the next 6, 12 or even 18 months. This is a complex regional crisis that now has entered its third year, one of the biggest our teams have seen for years.
The total number of those that have fled Syria is now more than 1.2 million, and it is estimated that it will reach 2 million this summer. Staggeringly, fact is that more than half of those crossing are children.
That means hundreds of thousands of children fleeing in fear for their lives, missing out on education, not getting proper nutrition or healthcare.
Returning dignity to refugee families
Being able to care for one’s children brings dignity back to parents. So does not having to wait in line for humanitarian aid.
For fathers who were breadwinners and mothers who cared for their families back in Syria, having money to decide themselves how to best take care of their children is hugely important.
In the words of Saba, Save the Children’s programme director: “For a parent, there is nothing harder than not being able to meet your children’s basic needs.”
Our cash assistance programme aims to ensure parents aren’t put in this position.
Please donate to our Syria Crisis Appeal