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The following information is a excerpt from the "Assistance to Ex-Gaza refugees in Jerash Camp, Jordan; Survey Report" compiled by the EU (European Union) and UNRWA (United Nations Relief Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East)

Regional Context

The socio-economic conditions of Palestine refugees are deeply rooted in the history of conflict in the Middle East since 1948. The establishment of the State of Israel led to forced migration and the expulsion of Palestinian civilians from their homes.
Nearly three quarters of a million Palestinians lost their homes and livelihoods in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and became refugees in neighbouring countries and various other countries around the globe. After the second Israeli-Arab war in 1967, large segments of land belonging to Palestinians were occupied by Israel and many Palestinians’ were forced to leave their homes leading to a second wave of displaced persons and refugees. These people lost their property, lands, homes and livelihoods. Most of them moved to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which were not occupied at the time, as well as to Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic

Of all five fields of UNRWA operations (Jordan, Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza Strip), Jordan hosts the highest number of refugees. The 1.9 million Palestine refugees living in Jordan constitute 42% of all registered Palestine refugees in the Near East with around 16% of them still living in the ten official UNRWA refugee camps. In addition to these official camps, there are three locations in Jordan which are run by the government of Jordan, yet not considered by UNRWA as official camps. It is believed that the combined population of the ten official camps, the three “unofficial” camps and the refugees residing in the vicinity of these camps living under similar socio-economic conditions, make up an estimated 65 % of the Palestine refugees in Jordan.

The support of Palestinian refugees through UNRWA is guided by the specific Agency mandate in addressing the needs of education, health, relief and social development services of the Palestine refugee community. UNRWA’s educational services in Jordan include elementary and preparatory education in 176 schools. In addition, 1,344 students are enrolled in two technical and vocational training centres in Jordan. Health care services include primary health care, dental care and ante and post-natal care. UNRWA’s relief and social services programme provides social assistance as well as food and cash assistance to special hardship families, in addition to micro-credit programmes and technical assistance to community based organisations.

While most Palestinian refugees have been granted Jordanian citizenship and may enjoy the related full rights, the refugees that originally came from Gaza Strip (originally 11,500) and took refuge in Jordan after the Arab Israeli war of 1967 do not enjoy Jordanian citizenship as Gaza had been administered by Egypt until 1967.

In the Jerash camp in particular, where the population is almost exclusively made up of ex- Gaza refugees, the situation is particularly deprived. Unemployment and poverty are very high and working opportunities are essentially concentrated in the informal sector.

Sector Context

Ex-Gaza refugees are only entitled to have temporary Jordanian passports (two years) which limits possibilities to work abroad. These passports are used as an identification documents and residency permits. Holders of these passports do not enjoy citizenship rights like voting, working for the government, and benefiting from government services. Access to domestic employment by (larger) private companies may also be denied, as national Intelligence may not grant the required approval. Also certain government licenses, like public drivers’ license, are not granted to ex-Gazans. The ex-Gaza refugees often lack the skills, licences and resources to start their own small business. Further, they do not afford higher education, as they have to pay disproportionate tuition fees.

The population of Jerash camp is made up, almost exclusively, by ex-Gaza refugees, of which 16,548 are registered with UNRWA and 1,153 are not registered. These ex-Gazans2 living in Jerash camp are particularly deprived since the rural area in which it is situated has limited demand from the employment market. Therefore unemployment is very high within this group and the only means of income is often from the informal economical sector or seasonal labour in the surrounding areas. Lack of full citizenship, financial resources and skills hinders them from obtaining funds to start their own micro-enterprise.

The number of families in Jerash camp and its vicinity that have been identified by UNRWA as Special Hardship Cases (SHC)3 constitute 9.8% of the population, whereas the average for Jordan is 2.6% of the refugee population.

Housing conditions are substandard for most of the ex-Gaza refugee families. The majority of the shelters in Jerash camp were built in 1967 and the poor economic conditions of most families inhibit the possibilities to rehabilitate their homes and extend the shelters to facilitate the family growth. Large families often reside in single or two-room shelters, with leaking roofs and limited access to daylight or proper ventilation. The poor living conditions most strongly reflect on the most vulnerable groups within the refugee community: youth, women, the physically and mentally disabled and the unemployed.

Environmental conditions in the camp are sub-standard. The lack of proper (underground) sewage and the lack of proper automated waste removal result in poor sanitation conditions in the camp.

The quality of educational services provided in the four schools in the camp does not keep up with government levels. Elementary and preparatory schools are overcrowded and 14 class sections have no designated classrooms.

There is a lack of possibilities for socio-economic participation for the most vulnerable, particularly the disabled and the women. The Community Based Rehabilitation Centre (CBRC) has limited facilities and resources and in addition, community awareness on the needs and possibilities of the disabled is limited. The Women Programme Centre (WPC) in Jerash camp plays an important role in improving the socio-economic participation of women though the centre has limited resources and know-how to organise awareness sessions for the community on human rights and self-reliance. The kindergarten is a crucial prerequisite to enable women to participate in the centre’s programmes, but currently has limited facilities to accommodate the needs of the 1500 women registered in the centre. Among the women in the camp, there is also a great need for legal advisory services, as the incidents of abuse and harassment are significant and women are often not aware of their legal rights and possibilities to address these and other legal issues.

Insufficiency in UNRWA’s general budget does not allow funding the required changes in order to match the needs for development of this underserved and disadvantaged community. In summary there is a need for a comprehensive approach for the development of employment and business activities and for upgrading the general living conditions and camp services to the level of other camps in Jordan.

1 Prof. F. Lapeyre and Prof. M. Bensaïd, A Socio-Economic Profile of UNRWA Registered Refugees, May 2007.

2 Ex-Gazans in the context of this report refers to ex-Gaza registered and non-registered refugees.

3 Special Hardship Case/families is a term used by UNRWA to denote the poorest refugee families lacking a medically fit male adult breadwinner or the lack of any form of transfer income above a defined monetary limit. These refugees receive direct assistance from UNRWA in such forms as cash grants and/or food rations. The assistance aims to ensure a minimum standard of nutrition and shelter and to intervene with cash assistance in the case of exceptional family difficulties.


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