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Shattered Lives: Challenges and Priorities for Syrian Children and Women in Jordan

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As of 4 June 2013, there are 470,573 Syrian refugees in Jordan. 53% are children under 18 years of age. The majority of Syrian refugees live in host communities in Jordan, mainly in the northern and central governorates. Approximately 120,000 Syrians live in Za’atari camp, Jordan’s largest refugee camp. Thousands of refugees continue to enter the country every week and new camps are due to open shortly.

The Jordanian government has asked the international community to share the burden of the response. United Nations (UN) agencies and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) provide refugees in camps with shelter and access to basic services. Refugees in host communities also receive assistance from UN agencies and INGOs as well as community-based organisations (CBOs) and are granted free access to basic public services by the Jordanian government.

This report combines the conclusions of a wide range of detailed assessments with insights from Syrian refugee children and women, INGOs and UNICEF sector specialists to help build a holistic picture of the situation faced by Syrian children and women in Jordan. It is guided by two overarching questions:

  • What are the key challenges in realizing the rights of Syrian girls, boys and women in Jordan?

  • What are the priority recommendations for action in the following programme sectors (i) child protection and gender-based violence (ii) education (iii) water, sanitation and hygiene (iv) nutrition and health (v) mental health and psychosocial support and (vi) adolescent development and participation?

Three contextual lenses of analysis – gender, age and area of residence – helped to identify differences in the experiences of Syrian girls, boys and women.

Urgent needs across all the programming sectors are identified. There are also severe funding shortfalls. Maintaining the existing programme is a challenge given the influx of thousands of new Syrian refugees to Jordan each week. Scaling up or starting new programming is highly challenging without substantial new financial resources.

In Za’atari camp, the security situation is rapidly deteriorating, theft and vandalism are common and public health risks are increasing. Syrians living in host communities are less visible to the international community but their needs are pressing and support for them is underfunded. Refugee children in camps and host communities remain highly vulnerable and require urgent assistance. Without a scaling up of the international donor community’s response, the situation for Syrian refugees in Jordan will only get worse. The international community must act now.