Action Against Hunger | Jordan

Supporting Syrian and Jordanian children weather the harsh winter

Action Against Hunger's new cash assistance programme helps more than 3,000 people

By Action Against Hunger

Feb 25 2016

As the harsh winter continues in Jordan, our teams have launched  a new intervention to support Syrian refugees in Jordan - and Jordanians themselves -  cope with the severe weather conditions.

The humanitarian needs are tremendous. An estimated nine million Syrians have fled their homes since civil war broke out in March 2011. With the fifth anniversary of the crisis looming next month, Syrian families are struggling through yet another harsh winter.

Some 2,240 refugees and 960 Jordanians have participated in our cash assistance progreammes in the region this year, which provide a stipend to families to help cover  winter items, enabling them to use their existing and limited resources to meet other basic needs for rent and food.

The new programme helps families in Irbid, which hosts Jordan's second-largest share of refugees living outside of a camp environment (143,448 people, or 23 percent of refugees). One in four people (26.7 per cent of the population) are estimated to be at risk of falling into poverty in the region.

We are families through several channels: providing cash, distributing ATM cards and providing gas heaters. Our programme enables the most vulnerable families, who have significantly limited resources, to stay warm during the winter months while continuing to meet their other basic needs. 

Situation likely to deteriorate 

Assessments that we, and other humanitarian actors, have conducted in the area show that refugee households and vulnerable Jordanian households are not able to generate enough income to pay for adequate heating and other necessary items, like warm clothing and outerwear, to cope with the cold. These expenses strain the resources of families already struggling to meet their needs for food, water and shelter.

“I have about 1,000 Jordanian Dinar [approximately $1,410 USD] of debt and I’ve been forced to delay some payments," said Fatima, a 24-year-old Syrian refugee from Dara’a who participates in the Action Against Hunger programme. The support will allow her to buy winter clothes for her children, pay her rent and reducing some of the debt that hangs over her family. "It sometimes feels like the debt will never go away, but I am grateful that I can use part of the humanitarian aid I receive to reimburse the debts. I feel like I am making progress for my family.”

"Families in the region are resorting to dangerous measures just to get by," said Arnaud Phipps, our Country Director in Jordan. “Because there are now even greater demands on their limited resources, families are reducing the quantity, quality and diversity of food they eat; borrowing from money lenders and accumulating debt; sending children to work to earn money; marrying children off very young; not treating medical conditions because they cannot afford fees for health servcies. Many face eviction from their shelters. The situation is likely to worsen as winter progresses.”

Our cash assistance programme is designed to help at-risk families survive the difficult winter. When spring arrives, we will continue to help Syrian refugees and their host communities in Jordan through the crisis.

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Image: A child in a refugee camp in Lebanon. Florian Seriex for Action Against Hunger