A global pandemic is sweeping the world in the form of the COVID-19 virus and has changed many facets of our everyday lives. Initially exceptional circumstances have turned into new rules to live by, with our social norms turned upside down and paying little concern to those in already vulnerable conditions.
The coronavirus has clouded the lives of billions and has dramatically impacted the global economy. On 19 March 2020, the Jordanian government imposed a nationwide curfew, ordered the closure of all commercial stores and stopped businesses across most industries in order to control the spread of the virus.
Zuhair Abdel-Moneim, a 43-year-old Palestine refugee resides in a small, zinc roofed home with his family of seven in Amman New Camp, Jordan. Zuhair is a daily-paid worker and street vendor who sells accessories in the camp. The strict government-imposed closures have gravely impacted his earnings.
"With the shutdown of all small businesses and markets due to the virus, conditions have become more difficult, debts, rent and water bills have started to accumulate," Zuhair says.
Current circumstances prevented him from being able to provide for his family’s most basic needs and their living conditions have become more difficult than they originally were. Zuhair was in desperate need of a solution.
Zuhair’s family, like other Palestine refugee families in Jordan, depend on the health, educational and relief services provided by UNRWA. The Agency serves more than 2.3 million registered refugees in Jordan. Taghreed, Zuhair's wife said, "I’m a high blood pressure patient and rely on UNRWA to provide me with medication. During the lockdown, UNRWA delivered my two-month prescription to our doorstep!” Throughout COVID-19 closures, the Agency has made home deliveries of the medication for non-communicable diseases it provides for Palestine refugees in all five fields of operation.
When the UNRWA relief and social services programme learned of the family’s difficult circumstances, they provided them with emergency cash assistance to enable the family to pay their bills and rent. UNRWA social workers also kept in contact with Zuhair was his family during lockdown to provide psychosocial support during this challenging time. This included health advice and best practices to curb the spread of the virus.
"In spite of the harsh circumstances we’ve faced, we are happy that UNRWA was always supported us. No effort has been spared to help us overcome our difficult situation," Zuhair added.
Using her father Zuhair’s smartphone to complete her assignments, Sahar and her siblings have adapted to this new way of studying. “It’s been challenging at times because we are all sharing one phone! We’ve tried our best to follow all of our lessons and complete our exams. Our ambitions give true meaning to the phrase non-stop," Sahar said. Taghreed and Zuhair’s 19-year-old daughter is currently studying accounting at the UNRWA Naour College, a branch of the UNRWA Faculty of Educational Sciences. The Agency provides vocational and educational training to some 4,441 Palestine refugee students in Jordan, with more than 1,350 students enrolled at Naour College.
It is worth mentioning that Amman New Camp, known locally as Wihdat, was established in 1955 to host Palestine refugees in some 1,500 residences. The camp is now home to 58,000 Palestine refugees.
KSrelief has been a long-term strategic partner to UNRWA, supporting its health services which benefit millions of Palestine refugees. Their contributions support the health sector and other sectors in the Agency’s five fields of operations.
Zuhair Abdel-Moneim, a 43-year-old Palestine refugee, with his family in Amman New Camp, Jordan.