Domestic violence on the rise among refugee families as pandemic drags on

(Photo: CARE Jordan)
AMMAN — Debt, unemployment, and the fear of homelessness are exacerbating domestic violence and tensions within and among refugee families living in Jordan and their Jordanian host communities, a new study by CARE International in Jordan has revealed.اضافة اعلان

CARE Jordan’s study, 2021 Annual Needs Assessment, indicates severe distress among thousands of refugees and vulnerable Jordanian families interviewed across the country, the organization said in a press statement. Compared to last year, the number of respondents facing verbal and emotional violence at home has risen by more than 30 percent, with reports of gender-based violence having also increased.

Speaking at the virtual launch on Wednesday in Amman, CARE Country Director in Jordan Ammar Abu Zayyad said that “economic stress and the impact of the pandemic are driving an increase in violence against women and children.”

The virtual event was held under the patronage of Australian Ambassador to Jordan Bernard Lynch.

The unease among families is also heightened by a constant threat of homelessness, the statement added. More than half of the households surveyed said fear of eviction had left them feeling unsafe at home. For many Syrian families living outside the camps, rent constitutes over half their monthly income, leaving them with little for food and other necessities.

“Without jobs or savings to fall back on, families live in perpetual fear of having their landlords turn them out or their water or electricity being cut off,” said Julia Maria Angeli, head of gender and program Design at CARE Jordan.   

Employment across genders and nationalities declined in 2021 even with the reopening of the Jordanian economy and high COVID-19 vaccination rates. Only 41 percent of those interviewed had jobs, with Iraqi refugees bearing the brunt of unemployment. Among Syrian refugees, less than a quarter (22 percent) had work permits — the lowest rate recorded in two years, the statement said.

Although the feeling of safety within the community remained constant from the previous years, there are signs that community solidarity and cohesion are under pressure despite the positive efforts of the Jordanian government and due in part to the reduced funding for the Jordan Response Plan for the Syria Crisis.

The government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic allowed many Jordanians and refugees to “retain a dignified life” despite the difficult conditions, Abu Zayyad said. Despite this, renewed and long-term financial support from the international community is “urgently needed” to ensure the wellbeing of the most vulnerable communities in Jordan, he added.

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