Accompanying Refugees in Amman
Jordan hosts the greatest number of refugees in the world with a refugee population of 2.7 million adding to their own population of just 9.5 million. Eighty per cent of these refugees live in Amman, the capital. Yousif, from Sudan, is one of these refugees. Like others, he fled his war-torn country for the safety, security and opportunities offered by Amman which is known as one of the most liberal cities in the middle east having welcomed refugees since 1948 from Palestine, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and other African countries.
Yousif, at the prime of his youth is hoping for a future full of opportunities but each day he is faced with the challenges of being a refugee in a foreign land. There is a lack of appropriate and affordable housing, high unemployment, lack of medical care and exclusion by locals. Yousif managed to find an apartment to live in and a job at a construction site. However, when he started suffering from kidney problems, his manager badly beat him up.
Jesuit Missions partner Jesuit Refugee Service Middle East (JRS MENA) began working in Jordan in 2008. They work alongside the refugees providing services such as higher education programmes, medical care and psychosocial support. They serve, accompany and advocate for all refugees irrespective of their nationality unlike some other organisations that operate there.
Elizabeth Woods, Project Director of Urban Refugee Support in Jordan says:
“Urban refugees in Amman face a multitude of issues stemming from how aid is not based on need but on nationality, thus some groups are extremely vulnerable when the situation is already difficult for all.”
Work permits are only issued to Syrian refugees for example, which means that often refugees work illegally and are open to exploitation. Amman is a very expensive city with high rents and costs such as medical care which also often operates on a nationality basis. Resettlement is becoming less and less common.
Yousif spends most of his time at the centre studying English and receiving medical treatment.
“When I heard about the help the Jesuits offer, I registered with them straight away. I was so happy because no other organization had helped me before that.”
Stephanie Beech, Communications officer at Jesuit Missions says:
“Jesuit Missions has worked with JRS for a number of years in the Middle East, funding a food kitchen and psychosocial support for families in Iraq. While the crisis is not making as many headlines today we remain committed to working where the need is greatest, to help those like Yousif.”