The people of Jordan have always opened their arms to people in times of distress, including Palestinians, Iraqis and Syrians, but the pressure on the country’s resources is in many ways enormous and limiting its capabilities.
Over the past four years, over 600,000 Syrian war refugees joined 700,000 Syrians who were already residing in Jordan, resulting in about 20% in Jordan’s population.
The Zaatari Refugee Camp, in northeastern Jordan, houses close to 100,000 Syrians and is the world’s second largest refugee camp. In May 2014, the NHCR opened a new camp in Azraq, some 100kms from Amman, with capacity for 130,000 refugees, adding new strain on Jordan’s limited resources.
Depending less on direct UN and other donor assistance, 83% of Syrian refugees live within local Jordanian communities, placing an increaing burden on public resources such as education, healthcare, water and energy.
Foreign assistance, while appreciated, only covered 39% of the costs of coping with the rapid influx of refugees. According to a UN provisional overview, total requirements for Jordan to mitigate the impact of Syrian refugees in 2014 is $2.8 billion.
Among the Syrian refugees in Jordan, there are close to 20,000 Christians.
His Holiness Pope Francis held a special meeting with refugees from Syria and Iraq, as well as persons with disabilities to shed light on their plight.
Jordan is a leader in peace and security efforts at both regional and international levels.
Despite its small size and limited resources, a significant portion of Jordan’s military personnel participate in UN peacekeeping operations, demonstrating the country’s global commitment to peace and stability.
Jordan has also dispatched field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters extending aid to millions around the world, such as Iraq, the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Egypt, Afghanistan, Haiti, Indonesia, Congo, Liberia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO) provides direct humanitarian aid to affected countries during and after conflict and natural disasters. Since its establishment in 1990, JHCO has managed to provide aid to people in need in more than 34 countries around the world.
The Jordanian public frequently engages in charitable activities, like setting up clothing banks, collecting cash donations and running fund-raising events to support those in need in and outside Jordan.
Their efforts complement an extensive network of governmental institutions, and civil and religious organisations’ working to meet the needs of refugees and of the vulnerable sectors of society.