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Mental Health/Psychosocial and Child Protection Assessment for Syrian Refugee Adolescents in Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan July 2013

Originally published


2. Introduction

2.1 Background

In Syria, beginning in early 2011, political protests and the government’s response created an insecure environment causing families to flee. As of June 4, 2013, there were more than 470,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, with 53% under the age of 18. Initially, Jordan was concerned that there was insufficient capacity for high numbers of refugees to be absorbed into the community setting. Therefore, Syrian refugees were housed in temporary transit facilities and later relocated in August 2012 to the Za’atari refugee camp, near the Syrian border. The Government of Jordan, Syrian Refugee Camp Directorate (SRCD) comanages the camp with UNHCR. The camp landscape is sandy with a layer of base course rock; there are frequent wind and dust storms. The camp had an initial planned capacity for 20,000 residents; at the time of this assessment (June 2013) there are 116,492 residents of Za’atari camp. Another camp is expected to open in September 2013. Jordan is one of the largest host countries to Syrian refugees; during the time of this assessment as many as 3,000-4,000 are arriving per night, often with limited belongings or resources. Humanitarian organizations are expected to provide food, water, shelter, health care and protection. An estimated $1 million per day is spent to run the camp.

Adolescents aged 15-24 years old make up 25% of the Za’atari camp’s population. Multiple psychosocial issues have been reported for youth in the camp, among them are early marriages (in Syria, the legal age to marry is 16, but many marry as young as 13) and lack of education (there are two schools with a capacity for 5,000 students for all grades except the final year of secondary school; 76% of girls and 80% of boys 6-18 years old do not attend due to lack of interest, expected return to Syria, violence in transit, psychological factors, dislike of teachers, and the difference in the curriculum).4 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities are of concern for the adolescent population, as there is 1 toilet per 50 people. From 70% to 94% of residents have sufficient access to water, 35 liters per person per day, though 63% believe the water is contaminated because of its taste. This is likely a result of residual chlorine from the water treatment process.