Middle East

Syria refugees: UN warns of extreme poverty in Jordan

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yrian refugee woman Umm Ammar cooks in a kitchen in her rented house in the Nazzal neighbourhood in Amman, Jordan, on May 30, 2012 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The study focussed on the conditions of those living in rural or urban areas

The UN refugee agency has urged the international community to help alleviate the "desperate living conditions" of Syrian refugees living away from Jordan's main camps.

One in six of them live in extreme poverty, a UN study says.

It warned that unless the international community provided more support, the conditions of the refugees would only get worse.

More and more them were relying on outside assistance, it said.

The study covered the more than half a million Syrian refugees who live in urban or rural areas outside the main refugee camps of Jordan.

UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres said their problems had been made more acute because of freezing winter temperatures and electricity shortages.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Guterres says Jordanian generosity needs to be matched by massive support from the international community

Mr Guterres is meeting Jordanian officials and donors to co-ordinate efforts to improve living conditions for the refugees and the communities who are hosting them.

The UN's Living in the Shadows report says it is based on data from home visits to almost 150,000 Syrian refugees living outside of camps in Jordan in 2014.

Two-thirds of refugees across Jordan, it says, are now living below the national poverty line, while one in six refugee households is in abject poverty, with less than $40 (£26; €34) for each person every month.

Almost half of the households researchers visited had no heating, the report says, while a quarter had unreliable electricity and 20% had no functioning toilet.

Rental costs accounted for more than half of household expenditures, with refugee families being forced to share accommodation with others to reduce costs.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A file picture showing a Syrian family living in Ramtha city, north of Amman

"Unless the international community increases its support to refugees, families will opt for ever more drastic coping strategies," Mr Guterres said.

"More children will drop out of school to work and more women will be at risk of exploitation, including survival sex."

'Massive' need

Jordan currently hosts a registered Syrian refugee population of about 620,000, with around 100,000 living in camps.

The UN report said that as the Syrian conflict approached its fifth year, many refugees were becoming "increasingly dependent on assistance, with Jordan's resources and infrastructure being stretched to the limit".

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said it was providing monthly cash assistance to 21,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian families, or 14% of the Syrian refugee population living outside camps.

As of the end of 2014, more than 10,000 additional Syrian refugee households had been identified as eligible for such assistance but, due to lack of funds, could not be helped, it said.

"Overall, the report's findings make it clear that any further reductions in the current levels of support will have immediate and serious consequences for Syrian refugees in Jordan," the UNHCR said.

The report said the "generosity of the Jordanian people and the government needs to be matched by massive support from the international community".

Syrian refugee populations


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