CARE warns of invisible Syrian refugee crisis in urban areas
Amman, November 15th, 2012. Thousands of Syrian families who have fled to urban areas in neighboring countries are at risk of being overlooked in the international effort to provide humanitarian relief, warns CARE, an international non-governmental organisation.
“The refugee crisis in urban areas is less visible, but no less serious than in the camps. No matter where refugees seek shelter, we must ensure that they do not continue suffering for lack of international support”, says CARE’s Country Director in Jordan, Kevin Fitzcharles.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than 70 percent of Syrian refugees in Jordan are living temporarily in very poor housing conditions in urban areas. While acknowledging the enormous needs in the Zaa’tri refugee camp, CARE is concerned by the lack of attention paid to the majority of refugees living in host communities. In a recent assessment, CARE found that 40 percent of these families were extremely vulnerable and in need of urgent and sustained assistance, including psychosocial support.
“Many of the most vulnerable refugees are mothers who have arrived by themselves with their children. They are unable to work outside of their home and have difficulty finding accommodation, in part because they are thought less likely to pay rent. In trying to cope with poverty and desperate circumstances they are likely send their children out to work, which carries significant risks of exploitation and abuse” explains Fitzcharles.
Most Syrian refugees live in very poor host communities that are themselves in need of support. With the influx of refugees, the capacity of local municipalities to provide essential services is stretched to the maximum. Opportunities for paid work are scarce, increasing the risk of tensions between refugees and host communities.
CARE’s latest assessment has confirmed the urgency of providing immediate support to refugees and their children to keep warm through the winter, which has already begun in Jordan as temperatures fall. CARE found that 92 percent of households had no or poor access to any heating source. More than half had no or poor blankets and no suitable clothing. CARE is currently providing emergency assistance to more than 20,000 refugees to help pay for food, rent, blankets and heaters.