Jordan + 5 more

UNHCR Jordan Factsheet - February 2018


Jordan is one of the countries most affected by the Syria crisis, with the second highest share of refugees compared to its population in the world, 89 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants.

The majority of Syrian refugees in Jordan live in urban areas and in poverty: over 80% live below the poverty line. 51% of refugees are children, and 4% are elderly.

The Government of Jordan has taken steps to open formal employment opportunities for Syrians. 46,000 work permits were issued in 2017 alone.

Working with Partners

UNHCR coordinates the refugee response under the leadership of the Government of Jordan, in a collaborative effort between the donor community, UN agencies, international and national NGOs, community-based organizations, refugees and host communities. Currently eight sectors provide support within the Jordan refugee response. UNHCR co-chairs several sectors and their thematic working groups, namely the Basic Needs Working Group with NRC, the Health Working Group with WHO, the Protection Working Group with NRC (as well as the associated Child Protection Working Group with UNICEF and the Sexual and Gender Based Violence Working Group with UNFPA), the Shelter Working Group with NRC and the Livelihoods Working Group with DRC. These sectors provide information, advice and advocacy to high level decision making bodies in Jordan. UNHCR supports the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate (SRAD) - the Government agency in charge of the management and coordination of Zaatari and Azraq camps - to ensure that assistance is provided in the most effective and efficient way possible in accordance with international humanitarian standards and protection principles.

Main Activities


  • UNHCR Jordan was the first UNHCR operation worldwide to introduce iris-scanning fraud-proof biometrics for refugee registration. Currently, over 93% of the 657,628 registered Syrians are processed using biometric technology, which enables UNHCR to process up to 4,000 refugees a day at the largest urban registration centre in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, UNHCR’s Anmar Hmoud Registration Centre in Amman.
  • UNHCR continues its strategic global shift from the distribution of in-kind relief items to the provision of humanitarian cash assistance. In Jordan in 2017, UNHCR provided monthly cash assistance to 30,000 Syrian refugee families and to 2,800 Iraqi and other nationality families, targeting the most vulnerable of the 81.1% of refugees residing outside the camps. Since March 2017, a more refined eligibility criteria has been introduced to identify and prioritize which families are most in need. Refugees receive cash through iris-scan biometric technology directly through bank ATMs. UNHCR also provides one time Urgent Cash Assistance to a small number of families depending on need and dire change of circumstances.

Access to Energy

  • In line with Jordan’s strategy to become a green economy by 2020, 2017 marked a significant milestone for access to clean and renewable energy in refugee camps, as Jordan is now home to the first refugee camp in the world powered by renewable energy. Azraq’s solar plant was inaugurated in May while in Zaatari camp, a 12.9-megawatt peak solar photovoltaic (PV) plant opened in November 2017. This will allow UNHCR to increase the provision of electricity to refugees’ homes from the current 8 hours up to 14 hours. This upgrade will ease the living conditions of families in the camp and improve their safety and security, while facilitating the storage of food and allowing children longer hours to do their homework. The plant will help UNHCR save an average of approximately $6 million per year in electricity bills, an amount that could be redirected to expand other vital services to Zaatari camp residents. It is foreseen that other facilities such as hospitals, community centres and offices of humanitarian organisations working on site will also benefit from the electricity generated by the plant.


  • UNHCR’s Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative programme, better known as DAFI, has been implemented in Jordan for several years and is the primary conduit for tertiary education. The DAFI programme enables young refugees to unlock their potential by addressing key barriers to higher education and open doors to complete their bachelor degree in Jordanian universities. Undergraduate refugee students are provided with scholarships that cover tuition fees, study materials, transportation, and other allowances. To support their academic achievements and skill development, DAFI scholars receive additional support through close monitoring, academic preparatory and language classes based on students’ needs, as well as psychosocial support, mentoring and networking opportunities. A total of 698 students are now currently pursuing with their higher education under DAFI program, 438 of DAFI scholars were selected on 2017 including 27 students from other nationalities including Iraqis and Yemenis.

  • UNHCR is also collaborating with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on the Japanese Initiative for the Future of Syrian Refugees (JISR) for higher education, bachelor degree scholarship in Japan. In 2017, 20 students were granted scholarships and departed to Japan, with further potential scholarships announced for 2018, with applications ongoing.


  • As of January 2018 UNHCR provides comprehensive primary, secondary and tertiary health care services free of charge for vulnerable Syrians and for all non-Syrians in urban areas. A comprehensive health care package for refugees in Azraq and Zaatari camps includes primary health care, reproductive health, dental, mental health and nutritional care, and secondary and tertiary out of camp referrals. Syrian refugees also benefit from the Cash for Health programme through the Common Cash Facility; since the project began in November 2015, over 6,000 Syrians have benefitted from cash assistance to pay for healthcare. Recent changes to Government regulations in February 2018 mean that Syrian refugees are no longer able to access the non-insured Jordanian rate for health, and should now pay 80% of foreigner rates. This will have wide ranging implications for the provision and access to services for over 650,000 refugees in the country, as well as UNHCR’s ability to cover health costs going forward.

Durable Solutions

  • Overall in calendar year 2017, a total of 4,989 refugees departed Jordan to be resettled to more than 13 countries. This represents a marked decrease in resettlement departures from 2016, when 21,000 individuals, or 5% of the Syrian refugee population in addition to smaller numbers of Iraqis and other nationalities, left Jordan, making it the number one resettlement departure country in the world. In 2017, The United States, the United Kingdom and Canada were the main countries where refugees were resettled. UNHCR continues to explore avenues for expanding the number of potential resettlement countries, advocate with traditional countries to increase their quota commitments, as well as looking to complementary pathways to resettlement including through education, family reunification and work mobility schemes.

Community Empowerment and Self Reliance

  • Following the London Conference on the Syria crisis in early 2016 and the issuance of the Jordan Compact, the Government of Jordan waived the fees required to obtain a work permit for Syrian refugees in a number of occupations open to foreign workers and simplified the documentation requirements. These measures have encouraged employers to regularize their workers; over 46,000 work permits have been issued in 2017 alone, while the total number of permits being issued and renewed since early 2016 stands at nearly 90,000 allowing refugees to look for jobs.
  • UNHCR and the International Labour Organization (ILO) inaugurated the first employment office inside a Syrian refugee camp in August 2017. The Zaatari Office for Employment, set up in coordination with the Government of Jordan, aims to facilitate access to formal work opportunities across Jordan for refugees living in the camp. Similarly, the Azraq Centre for Employment was inaugurated on 18 February 2018.

In 2018, UNHCR requirements to assist refugees in Jordan total $274.9 million. As of February 2018, UNHCR has received only $17.8 million in funding, equal to 6% of total needs. Particular thanks the Government of Australia and the IKEA Foundation for their multi-year funding contribution.

Special thanks to donors of unrestricted funding: Sweden (98 M) | Norway (43 M) | Netherlands (39 M) | United Kingdom (32 M) | Denmark (25 M) | Australia (19 M) |Switzerland (15 M) |

CONTACTS - Juliette Stevenson, External Relations Officer Jordan,, Cell +962 79013 8705