With winter cold at the door, refugees in Jordan to receive an increase in cash assistance

Published: 25 November 2015 12:18 CET

By Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC

The first cold breezes have started to touch Jordan, raising worries among refugee communities about winter months to come. Over the past four years, the cold season has taken a heavy toll on refugee families, most of whom live in ill-equipped apartments, unfinished buildings, abandoned shops or tents. These families do not have the resources to heat their houses or enough money to buy thick winter clothes. To ease the suffering of these vulnerable communities, the Jordan National Red Crescent Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are supporting 1,200 vulnerable families with supplementary cash assistance, based on their needs. Some families will benefit from a 73 Jordanian dinar increase in cash assistance per person, while those who already have heaters will receive a 48  Jordanian dinars increase.

While many humanitarian organizations have had to reduce aid to refugees displaced in the Middle East because of a lack of funding, the Red Crescent cash transfer programme remains one of the main sources of income for Syrians in Jordan. The programme was launched in 2013 and is implemented by the Jordan National Red Crescent Society, together with its Movement partners. Refugees use most of this cash to pay their rent, while the remainder is used for food and utilities.

“We can manage to get food from here and there. That is not an issue. But we worry about the rent; we fear that if we don’t pay on time we will be thrown out into the streets,” said Roueida, a Syrian mother of six who arrived in the northern city of Mafraq three years ago.

At the beginning of the programme, cards were used by beneficiaries to collect the assistance, but in 2014, iris scanning was introduced to ensure that those who are registered and need assistance are the only people able to access the funds.

“A card can be lost or stolen, or even used by people other than the beneficiaries. The iris scan guarantees that only those registered have access to the money. It is a safer technique,” said Mr Mariano Gomez, CTP and livelihood delegate for the IFRC in Jordan.

Cards are still sometimes used, especially by people who have eye disorders, and by those who have difficulty moving around and would prefer to delegate someone else to collect their monthly allowance on their behalf.

The IFRC has also set up a telephone hotline to enable refugees to contact the organization at any time to give their feedback, make complaints, or event just to talk about difficulties they are facing.

In 2016, the Jordan National Red Crescent Society and the IFRC are aiming to help up to 2,000 refugees in Amman through this programme, and to expand to more cities in the country. They are also looking into including vulnerable Jordanian families in the programme.

Since the onset of the Syrian crises in 2011, more than 630,000 registered refugees have entered Jordan and found safety within its borders. During the past four years, the Jordan National Red Crescent Society has provided health services, food and non-food relief items, information and referrals, and cash assistance to those that need it most.

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