91% of Syrian refugee families in Jordan in debt— UNHCR

Zaatari refugee camp
(File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The UN High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) reported that 91 percent of Syrian refugee families and 87 percent of non-Syrian refugee families in Jordan were burdened with debt in the last quarter of 2023, indicating that 9 out of ten families were suffering from financial liabilities, Al-Ghad reported.اضافة اعلان

The UNHCR collected information from refugee families to assess differences at the family level across several sectors, including economic status, food security, shelter, water, sanitation, hygiene, and health. The sample included 3,696 families, representing about 18,809 refugees.

According to the UNHCR assessment titled "Socio-economic Situation of Refugees in Jordan," there was a slight decrease in the proportion of debt-burdened families in the fourth quarter compared to the second quarter of 2023. The borrowed money was mainly allocated to rent, comprising 31 percent of the total, followed by food at 28 percent, healthcare expenses at 19 percent, and utility bills, including water and electricity, at 18 percent.

Income decline
Syrian refugee families reported an average income of JD255 Jordanian, while non-Syrian refugee families recorded an average income of JD229 Jordanian in the fourth quarter of 2023. This represents a decrease of eight percent and six percent from the income reported in the second quarter of 2023, respectively.

The average monthly labor income for Syrian refugee families decreased from JD225 Jordanian in the second quarter to JD207 in the fourth quarter. As for non-Syrian families, labor income increased from JD192 to JD200 during the same period.

Despite reductions in humanitarian aid, joint assistance provided by the UNHCR and the World Food Program (WFP) remained the main source of income for refugees in 2023. This represented 44 percent of Syrian refugees' income and 38 percent of non-Syrian refugees' income in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Additionally, the UNHCR indicated that cash assistance for basic needs accounted for 67 percent of the income of beneficiary refugee families in Jordan in 2023.

The financing requirements allocated to Jordan in 2024 by the UNHCR decreased by approximately JD15 million, a decrease of 3.93 percent, amid the UN agency's threat to suspend or reduce its interventions across the Middle East and North Africa. The UNHCR in Jordan received 43 percent of its financial requirements for 2023 until December 15, 2023.

The assessment indicated that the average monthly expenditure was JD314 for Syrian families and JD279 for non-Syrian families in the fourth quarter of 2023. Compared to the second quarter of 2023, the average expenditure of Syrian families decreased by two percent, and non-Syrian families by five percent.

Syrian and non-Syrian refugees showed similar spending patterns over 2023, focusing on three categories: food, rent, and health.

‘Edge of the abyss’
The UNHCR believes that prolonged refugee situations, new emergencies, multiple overlapping crises push forcibly displaced persons and their host communities to the ‘edge of the abyss.’

It says that millions struggle to meet their daily needs without decisive support from the UNHCR and the international community, noting that the downward trend in UNHCR funding is concerning, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, which witnessed the largest decrease in allocated funding.

In 2023, the UNHCR received approximately $214 million less for its programs in the Middle East and North Africa compared to 2022.

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