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Challenges facing Syrian Refugees and Jordan: Pressures from a Pandemic

Lamp Lifeboat Ladder’s pilot project is a special program with the Canadian government to provide safe, new homes for 90 torture and sexual violence survivors and their families. Forty of these survivors and their families are currently living in Jordan, with some having fled from Syria. Sadly, the impact of the global pandemic has been particularly harsh on Syrian refugees living in Jordan, as the World Refugee and Migration Council’s newly published research highlights.

Jordan currently hosts over 600,000 Syrian refugees, some of whom have been in the country for more than 10 years. Prior to the global pandemic Jordan was facing slow economic growth and record unemployment ((almost 20%), and as a result of the strict COVID-19 lockdown measures the economy has deteriorated further, which has negatively affected livelihoods, in particular those of Syrian refugees.  The World Refugee and Migration Council published new research which analyses specific challenges facing Syrian refugees in Jordan, as well as stressors on Jordan as a host country. Summary Report

The study includes interviews with refugees, who share their experiences of how the pandemic has affected their livelihoods. Overall, the report finds that Jordan needs additional support and that currently, the majority of Syrian refugees see themselves returning to Syria as a possible option.  

This study combines the work of three researchers and their colleagues who are based in the region. Professor Rasha Istaiteyeh, an economist at The Hashemite University assessed the impact of the global pandemic on the Jordanian economy, focusing on policies geared towards Syrian refugees.  His research found that the COVID-19 public health emergency, economic impacts of the global recession and containment measures, and the increasing number of Syrian refugees in Jordan, some of whom have lived there for nearly 10 years are together generating enormous pressures on Jordan. He highlights that despite some donors having provided extra support, more resources are needed.

Oroub El-Abed and Nuseibah Shabaitah, both of the Centre for Lebanese Studies in Amman carried out interviews with Syrian refugees in Jordan to better understand the effects of COVID-19 on their livelihoods. Their findings show that most Syrians interviewed do not see returning to Syria as a viable option currently, despite worsening conditions for Syrians living in Jordan.  Dr. Omar Asfour, a Syrian public health expert and Dr. Hosam Allaham, a Syrian medical doctor and currently a Deputy Health Manager with the International Rescue Committee’s Syria program, analysed the impact of the pandemic on Syria, focusing on both the consequences in government and non-government controlled areas. Their reports show that returning to Syria is still unlikely at this stage, as in light of a lack of reporting it is hard to build up an accurate picture of the impact and severity of COVID-19, especially in areas Syrian refugees may return one day. 


About the author

Sophie McCann

Sophie McCann is a program director and advocate with experience in international development and human rights advocacy in the UK and internationally. She specializes in refugee and migrants’ rights and community-based mental health and gender programming. Sophie is part of the Lamp Lifeboat Ladder team focusing on organizational development and communications.

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