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Syrians Scrape A Living in Jordan (3 ...
65,Jordan
By Camilla Schick
12 Mar 2015

LEAD-IN MATERIAL
As Syria’s civil war enters its fifth year, nine million people have been displaced, with 3.7 million of those having fled the country. Millions of Syrian refugees are scraping by in neighboring countries.

Jordan has registered 600,000 refugees – constituting almost 10% of the Hashemite Kingdom’s total population of 6.6 million, though the actual number may be much higher. One fifth now live in refugee camps, including Za'atari camp, the second largest in the world. It's illegal for them to leave Jordan's now overcrowded and increasingly insecure refugee camps, but many are now making the leap to urban areas, seeking work and a better life. Some Syrian families who fled to Jordan at the start of the war are fairing better than others who've arrived more recently. But they’re still struggling to survive beyond the camps, without enough allowance from the UN nor local charities to pay for food and medical care, or taking their chances with working illegally.

Despite not being legally entitled to work, many have taken up jobs at local shops at the discretion of Jordanian employers, while others are too afraid to leave their homes and are surviving on as little as 13 dinars ($18) per person per month from the UN.

UN REPORT
A recent UNHCR urban report, entitled ‘Living in the Shadows’ in January this year, based on 150,000 Syrian refugees living outside of Jordan’s camps, concluded that two thirds of the refugees now in urban areas are living below Jordan’s poverty line. 1/6 are living in abject poverty barely surviving off the equivalent of 1.3 dollars per person per day. The UN has expressed grave concern that refugees are now turning desperate measures to make ends meet, with children dropping out of school and even women turning to prostitution.

JORDAN VALLEY
Khatah is a father in a community of more than 35 Syrian refugees living in UNHCR provided tents in the Jordan Valley by the Israeli border. Some of them have been living like this for 2-3 years. Most are young children. They try to earn some money working irregular days on the farms nearby, but it's not nearly enough to cover medical fees, food, and other expenses. One woman is heavily pregnant with her baby due fifteen days ago, while other adults are suffering stress and chronic illness. Khatah explains he cannot afford to pay 40-50 dinars per ID card for his family of 19 people. He wishes the fighting would stop in Syria and that they would all be able to return to them homeland one day.

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Syrians Scrape a Living in Jordan (1 ...
Jarash
By Camilla Schick
12 Mar 2015

As Syria’s civil war enters its fifth year, nine million people have been displaced, with 3.7 million of those having fled the country. Millions of Syrian refugees are scraping by in neighboring countries.

Jordan has registered 600,000 refugees – constituting almost 10% of the Hashemite Kingdom’s total population of 6.6 million, though the actual number may be much higher. One fifth now live in refugee camps, including Za'atari camp, the second largest in the world. It's illegal for them to leave Jordan's now overcrowded and increasingly insecure refugee camps, but many are now making the leap to urban areas, seeking work and a better life. Some Syrian families who fled to Jordan at the start of the war are fairing better than others who've arrived more recently. But they’re still struggling to survive beyond the camps, without enough allowance from the UN nor local charities to pay for food and medical care, or taking their chances with working illegally.

Despite not being legally entitled to work, many have taken up jobs at local shops at the discretion of Jordanian employers, while others are too afraid to leave their homes and are surviving on as little as 13 dinars ($18) per person per month from the UN.

UN REPORT
A recent UNHCR urban report, entitled ‘Living in the Shadows’ in January this year, based on 150,000 Syrian refugees living outside of Jordan’s camps, concluded that two thirds of the refugees now in urban areas are living below Jordan’s poverty line. 1/6 are living in abject poverty barely surviving off the equivalent of 1.3 dollars per person per day. The UN has expressed grave concern that refugees are now turning desperate measures to make ends meet, with children dropping out of school and even women turning to prostitution.

STORY:
This is the ancient Jordanian city of Jerash, 50 kilometres north of the capital Amman. It’s now home to approximately 8,000 Syrian refugee families / 50,000 refugees.

34-year-old Ali and his younger brother Mohammed work shifts at a local coffee and tea shop. Living as refugees has put a huge strain on Ali's marriage, and he is now separated from his wife, and rarely gets to see his young son. He says they used to live in Al Midan, an affluent Sunni suburb of Syria’s capital Damascus. But when fighting between the Assad government forces and Syrian rebels began in their neighborhood, the family took the heart-wrenching decision to prepare to leave the country. Being the eldest, Ali headed to Jordan first to set things up for the rest of the family. Mohammed and his parents followed after.

The brothers live with their mother Yusra, who warmly invites us into their two-bedroom one-floor home. Yusra was recently widowed. Their father died of health complications shortly after joining them in Jordan. They know how terrible the living conditions are for those now living in Jordan’s over-crowded refugee camps. They tell us they consider themselves among the luckier refugees, who arrived in Jordan almost four years ago at the start of the conflict, having found work and a place to live.

Jordanian shop owner Khaled says he hired the brothers not only because Syrians will work for a lower wage, but also because he wants to help the refugees who are desperately seeking work. He says the Jordanian authorities are fairly lax when it comes to illegal refugee workers. He says all Arabs are brothers, and need to help Syrians until its safe enough for them to return home.

NOTES
We chose to focus the interview on the elder brother – Ali
Their mother, Yusra, did not want us to film her face

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