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UNHCR begins distributing emergency cash assistance, presents appeal for $79 million

By JT - May 11,2020 - Last updated at May 11,2020

Refugees in Amman wait in line to withdraw their cash assistance from the UNHCR, which will be distributed to a total of 18,000 families (Photo courtesy of UNHCR Jordan)

AMMAN — Starting this week, approximately 18,000 vulnerable refugee families will receive one-off emergency cash assistance from the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to help them cope with the economic impact of coronavirus.

Refugees who meet the vulnerability criteria will be alerted by SMS when their assistance is ready to be collected, while the distribution will take place through both ATMs and mobile wallets, a UNHCR statement said on Monday. 

In a recent survey carried out by the UNHCR, UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP), it was revealed that over 90 per cent of refugees living in the Kingdom have less than JD50 ($70) of savings left, the UN agency said.

In addition, many refugees who previously relied on the informal labour market for work — around 40 per cent of refugees in Jordan — have been left without an income. This emergency cash distribution hopes to go some way in alleviating the hardships that they are facing, the statement said. 

“We have seen over a third of refugee daily workers lose their jobs completely and are struggling to put food on the table for their families. Those who were previously self-reliant are now approaching UNHCR for help,” said Dominik Bartsch, UNHCR Representative in Jordan, in the statement.

Since the start of the coronavirus crisis in Jordan, the UNHCR has received over 300,000 calls to its hotline, the majority from refugees asking for cash assistance, according to the agency.

Using detailed vulnerability assessments, the organisation estimates that approximately 50,000 refugee families need emergency cash assistance, while it currently only has funding to help the 18,000 most vulnerable thanks to the support of donors like the United States and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, the UNHCR said.

It should be noted that the regular cash assistance that benefits some 33,000 refugee families every month has continued throughout 2020, the agency added. 

Following an initial appeal for $27 million for three months only, the UNHCR has now presented its requirements for the rest of the year, amounting to $79 million to help refugees affected by the coronavirus crisis in Jordan. This amount forms part of the revised UN Global humanitarian response plan (GHRP) totalling $6.7 billion for the response that was launched in Geneva on  May 7.

The UNHCR has already been supporting the Jordanian government’s national response plan, donating $1.2 million to the Ministry of Health to purchase essential medical equipment as well as six ambulances, delivering medicine directly to refugees’ homes and maintaining the operation of essential services, including medical clinics and hospitals, in refugee camps.

"Thanks to the prompt and coordinated response of the Government of Jordan, the number of active coronavirus cases in Jordan has remained low. While we have achieved a good level of preparedness, the urgent focus is now on the long-term economic impact of this crisis. It is now all the more important that the international community supports the recovery effort and continued needs among the refugee community,” Bartsch added.

Amid coronavirus movement restrictions in Jordan, the UNHCR has continued its work to protect refugees across the country. Although registration and community centres have been closed to prevent the spread of the virus, remote counselling, legal aid and protection services for those who have experienced violence have continued, concluded the statement. 

 

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