Suffering of Syrian refugees deepened as they brace for aid cuts

Abeer Mustafa, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan, with her children outside their house in Madaba recently. (Photo: Tamara Abdin)
Abeer Mustafa, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan, with her children outside their house in Madaba recently. (Photo: Mohammad Batah)
MADABA — In an 80 square meter house in the village of Lib in Madaba lives Abeer Mustafa (name has been changed), with her husband and her five children, neighbored by her parents and her aunts. Although the family found refuge from the war in Syria, they have continued to struggle with poverty in Jordan. اضافة اعلان

Mustafa and her family came from Ghouta in Syria to Jordan nine years ago, moving from a warzone to refugee camp to house, unable to find a home. She is one of half a million refugees receiving aid from the World Food Program (WFP) headed by the United Nations.

While some beneficiaries receive monthly coupons, others are granted allowances, but all forms of assistance are open to being cut or discounted. WFP is working with donors and agencies to reassess the families’ situations in order to retarget their funds to those most in need.

According to Dara Masri, a communications specialist at WFP, 21,000 refugees will stop receiving aid in July due to budget cuts. If the $58 million gap is not filled by September, another quarter million refugees will face the same issue.

Struggling with debt and disease, the family feels that they have been robbed of their rights. The situation since the start of the pandemic has only gotten more difficult, the family told Jordan News.

Mustafa’s aunt, the eldest of the family, sat in despair saying, “I am under so much distress.” According to her, there is no work available, especially considering the majority of the family is injured or disabled. 

“At this point, there is no other solution but to resort to beggary if we lose what’s left of the assistance. Our hands are tied. We are waiting for support and relief,” she told Jordan News. “I am just thankful they cut the funds from me and not my son and grandchildren.”

Back in Syria, the family’s homes were either destroyed or confiscated by the regime, making it impossible for them to return. Some of the women also expressed fear that their husbands and children were wanted by authorities. 

“They would immediately be executed at the border,” Mustafa’s father said. “That’s what’s stopping us from going back. It is not an option.”

Mustafa’s daughter, who recently turned two, is suffering from severe malnutrition and underdevelopment. Her father experienced two strokes, triggered by “sadness and despair”, and is unable to pay his medical bills. Her mother, on the other hand, has diabetes and eczema.

Her maternal aunt, who struggled with helicobacter pylori, a bacterial infection that can lead to ulcers and cancer, was unable to pay 75 cents for medication to treat it. Her paternal aunt, a widow who has had several surgeries on her legs, lives in a basement where she is unable to move without crutches.

Sitting around the room in silence, the family was unable to recall a single happy moment, with the war trauma still haunting all. 
“We haven’t experienced a moment of happiness since the war, but it’s coming,” Mustafa’s 54-year-old father said.

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