Syrian refugee children return to school at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

New Research: Challenges Facing Syrian Refugees and Jordan

The World Refugee & Migration Council (WRMC) has published new research that takes a close look at the challenges amidst the COVID-19 pandemic facing Syrian refugees in Jordan — as well as the pressures on Jordan as a host country. The study makes it clear that Jordan needs additional support and that, for now, most Syrian refugees don’t see return as a viable option.

The research includes an assessment of the economic impact of COVID-19 on Syrian refugees, including measures undertaken by the Jordanian government to limit the spread of COVID-19, and the short- and long-term effects of the virus on Jordan’s economy. The report also includes interviews with refugees, sharing their stories about how the pandemic has affected their livelihoods as well as assessment of future options.

Key points from the report include:

  • Jordan hosts over 600,000 Syrian refugees
  • Interviews for the study were conducted with 35 Syrian refugees distributed all over Jordan, including 18 males and 17 females across Mafraq, Irbid, Amman, Zarqa’a and Ma’an governorates, as well as Azraq, Emirati and Za’atari camps.
  • A stagnated Jordanian economy with a near 20% unemployment rate (particularly among youth), and a fluctuating GDP is having reverberating impacts on deteriorating economies in surrounding countries with large populations of refugees and internally displaced persons such as Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.
  • The Jordanian government’s swift and strict COVID-19 response effort has led to a national deficit of around US$4.5 billion, with long-term implications on livelihoods, particularly for Syrian refugee populations (of whom approximately 80% live under the poverty line).
  • Economic sectors where Syrian refugees overwhelmingly find employment including tourism, construction, trade and customer service, have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.
  • For most Syrian refugees across Jordan, access to online education has also been difficult throughout the pandemic. Several interviewees reported not being able to recharge their mobile phone credits in order to access the internet for their children’s classes or exams. One interviewee expressed having to have had “to borrow the money to buy the mobile phone” to continue their education.

“I reemphasize the WRMC’s calls for multilateral responses whereby the international community increases support for capacity-building in host governments at the national, and local levels to administer funds, and to incorporate a focus on collective outcomes in their programming and reporting.”

“These are tough times for refugees around the world as governments face intensifying pressures to extend services to their citizens in light of the pandemic and as traditional donors encounter increased needs on all fronts and in all regions.”

WRMC Honorary Chair, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan

WRMC Research Papers on the Impact of COVID-19 on Syrian Refugees in Jordan:

For more information from the WRMC on COVID-19 and. the Middle East, see these publications and events: