Published: 2020-05-11 14:55
Last Updated: 2020-05-11 14:55
Starting this week, approximately 18,000 vulnerable refugee families will receive a one-off emergency cash assistance from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to help them cope with the economic impact of coronavirus. Distributed both through ATM’s and mobile wallets, refugees who meet the vulnerability criteria will be alerted by SMS when their assistance is ready to go and collect.
In a recent survey carried out by UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP, it was revealed that over 90 percent of refugees living in the Kingdom have less than 50 Jordanian Dinar ($70) of savings left. In addition, many refugees who previously relied on the informal labor market for work – around 40 percent of refugees in Jordan – have been left without an income. This emergency cash distribution hopes to go some way in alleviating the hardship that they are facing.
“We have seen over a third of refugee daily workers lose their jobs completely and are struggling to put food on the table for their families. Those who were previously self-reliant are now approaching UNHCR for help,” said Dominik Bartsch, UNHCR Representative in Jordan.
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis in Jordan, UNHCR has received over 300,000 calls to its hotline, the majority from refugees asking for cash assistance. Using detailed vulnerability assessments, the organization estimates that approximately 50,000 refugee families need emergency cash assistance but currently only has funding to help the 18,000 most vulnerable thanks to the support of donors like the United States and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund. It should be noted that the regular cash assistance that benefits some 33,000 refugee families every month has continued throughout 2020.
Following the initial appeal of $27million for three months only, UNHCR has now presented its requirements for the rest of the year amounting to $79 million to help refugees affected by the coronavirus crisis in Jordan. This amount forms part of the revised UN Global humanitarian response plan (GHRP) totaling $6.7 billion for the response which was launched in Geneva on 7 May.
UNHCR has already been supporting the Government of Jordan’s national response plan, donating $1.2million to the Ministry of Health to purchase essential medical equipment as well as six ambulances, delivering medicine direct to refugees’ homes and maintaining the operation of essential services, including medical clinics and hospitals, in refugee camps.
“Thanks to the prompt and coordinated response of the Government of Jordan, the number of active coronavirus cases in Jordan has remained low. While we have achieved a good level of preparedness, the urgent focus is now on the long-term economic impact of this crisis. It is now all the more important that the international community supports the recovery effort and continued needs among the refugee community,” Bartsch added.
Amid coronavirus movement restrictions in Jordan, UNHCR has continued its work to protect refugees across the country. Although registration and community centers have been closed to prevent the spread of the virus, remote counselling, legal aid and protection services for those who have experienced violence have continued.