More than 450,000 Syrian refugees who fled the bloodshed in their country are experiencing grave living conditions outside the refugee camps in Jordan, according to a survey conducted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and International Relief and Development.
Spokesperson for the UNHCR Dan McNorton explained that: “The survey shows the day-to-day survival struggle of some 450,000 registered Syrian refugees as they face rising rents, inadequate housing and educational challenges for their children.”
This is despite the support that Jordan offers to them, McNorton added, including free access to public health care and school systems.
He pointed out that among the 584,600 Syrians currently living in Jordan, it is estimated that almost four in five live outside the formal camps, and “as their resources dry, many are turning to ‘negative coping mechanisms’ to make ends meet, sometimes placing themselves at risk of exploitation.”
The survey revealed that more than 90 percent of the refugees live in rented accommodations, where the prices have risen in 2012 and 2013 by as much as 25 percent in some locations. Rent payments account for almost two thirds of refugee expenditures.
Half of the refugees feel they live in inadequate dwellings, including badly ventilated apartments that suffer from dampness or mould. McNorton noted that, “61 percent of Syrian children covered in the survey did not go to school during the 2012-2013 academic year.”
The reasons behind that, the survey shows, include the challenges of adjusting to the Jordanian curriculum, the inability to catch up, having to work to earn money for their families and the over-stretched capacity of the Jordanian public education system.
According to the survey, the percentage of refugees receiving an income from humanitarian assistance and charities reportedly decreased from 63 per cent to 49 per cent.
The UN has estimated that more than 100,000 people were killed and some 6.3 million people have been internally displaced since the Syrian conflict broke out in March 2011. More than two million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
A third refugee camp in Jordan will open on 30 April to accommodate the latest influx of Syrians. According to UNHCR, Al-Azraq camp, located nearly 100 km east of the Jordanian capital Amman, is expected to receive as many as 130,000 people.
The new camp will hopefully reduce the pressures in Al-Za’atari refugee camp, where the number of refugees currently living there well exceeds its capacity.