Palestinian Refugees in Jordan at Continuous Risk of Refoulement, Warns UN

Palestinian Refugees in Jordan at Continuous Risk of Refoulement, Warns UN

Elderly Palestinian women in Jordan’s AlAkaba refugee camp, near Amman. Photo credit: Reuters

Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) in Jordan have been exposed to serious protection challenges and refoulement risks, reported the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said PRS in Jordan continue to be exposed to a number of protection issues. Those without Jordanian documents who have entered from Syria and remained in Jordan irregularly are particularly vulnerable. They live under continuous risk of arrest, detention and potential forced return to Syria.

Since 2015, UNRWA has recorded 133 cases of refoulement to Syria, the Agency reported in its 2020 Syria crisis emergency appeal.

While PRS holding valid Jordanian national documents face fewer concerns, UNRWA has registered some cases of PRS families holding Jordanian IDs exposed to risk of confiscation of their documentation and/or de-nationalization and denied access to state sponsored-services and social safety nets.

Following years of protracted displacement, many PRS have exhausted their coping mechanisms and rely on relief assistance to cover their basic needs.

A Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment conducted by WFP in 2018 indicated that the majority (67 per cent) of PRS were food-insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity. Twelve per cent of PRS female headed households were found to be food insecure compared to seven per cent of male-headed households. Food insecurity was even higher (78 per cent) in PRS households where the head of household was reported to be completely illiterate. Eighty-six per cent of surveyed PRS households were also reported to be in debt.

A post-distribution monitoring exercise (PDM), conducted by UNRWA in August 2019 to collect feedback on the cash assistance program, revealed that 35 per cent of PRS respondents used UNRWA cash assistance to pay for rent, 15 per cent used it to cover food needs, 15 per cent to repay a debt, 11 per cent paid water and electricity bills and 24 per cent utilized cash for other priorities like health, transportation, clothing, etc.

The number of PRS in Jordan has remained relatively stable for a number of years, with 17,343 PRS recorded with UNRWA as of December 2019. Of these, 349 reside in King Abdullah Park (KAP), facing movement restrictions and a number of protection concerns.

Since the opening of Jabeer-Al Nassib border between Syria and Jordan, in October 2018, UNRWA has registered the return of 624 PRS individuals to Syria. As of November 2019, of those returnees, some 227 individuals were displaced again to Jordan for a range of reasons, including the unstable security situation in Syria, problems with civil documentation, lack of economic resources and livelihood opportunities, and high levels of destruction of homes and property.

In 2019, Jordan had the second highest share of refugees compared to its population in the world, with 654,955 Syrian refugees registered in the country as of October 2019.

The large influx of refugees has placed enormous pressure on the country’s infrastructure, services, economic resources and ability to provide for both refugees in need and the host community.

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