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UNHCR Jordan begins distribution of cash assistance to support refugees this winter

By JT - Nov 12,2019 - Last updated at Nov 12,2019

AMMAN — As winter approaches, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Jordan has started the process of distributing one-off winter cash assistance for refugees across the country.

This year, UNHCR Jordan aims to reach almost 400,000 Syrian refugees (around 96,000 families) and 55,000 non-Syrians (17,500 families) with vital cash assistance to help them meet urgent needs as the cold season begins, according to a statement from the refugee agency.

The cash is intended to cover the four coldest months of winter, and the average amount of cash varies from $260 for a single person ($66 per month) to $440 for a family of 7 ($110 per month).

In November, winter cash assistance will be distributed to approximately 60,000 refugee families in order to allow them to make purchases before the onset of cold weather.  

Funds permitting, UNHCR will add additional families in December.

After receiving an SMS alerting them that their cash assistance is ready, refugees living in towns and cities will be able to collect their money at Cairo-Amman Bank ATMs using UNHCR’s fraud-proof biometric iris-scanning system, according to the statement. 

In Zaatari and Azraq camps, 113,773 refugees will receive their assistance directly through the Norwegian Refugee Council, UNHCR’s partner for basic needs, the statement said.

After nine years, Syrian refugees have exhausted their resources and are becoming poorer each year they are in exile. High levels of debt increase their risk of exploitation, according to the statement. 

As a result, the most vulnerable families living both in refugee camps and urban areas will be targetted through UNHCR’s distributions, providing families with winterisation assistance to help them cover the costs of heating, winter clothing, food and medicine, read the statement.

Similarly, for the non-Syrian refugee population in Jordan, this winter cash comes at a "crucial time" as access to humanitarian assistance is limited and few are able to obtain work permits to support their families, the statement said. 

Special attention will also be given to female-headed households, the elderly, people with medical needs as well as survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

The start of UNHCR Jordan’s winter cash assistance distribution also coincides with the launch of UNHCR’s “Warm Their Hearts”, a regional public mobilisation campaign to support refugees across the Middle East this winter. 

Approximately $222 million is needed to support 3.88 million refugee and displaced families in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt to cope with harsh winter weather conditions, said the statement. 

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the challenges that refugees across the region face this winter and encourage the public to donate money to help.

Last winter, 67 per cent of UNHCR’s winter assistance was in the form of cash, allowing families to prioritise their own needs, while 33 per cent was distributed as core relief items for winter. 

Through its Winterisation Appeal, UNHCR was able to provide winter support for 3.6 million displaced and refugee children, women and men across Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt who struggled amid harsh weather conditions as snowfall and frigid temperatures exacerbated their suffering.

UNHCR’s Winterisation Appeal was launched in September 2019 and to date, full funding has not been secured. This funding gap has a direct impact on the well-being and survival of hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons, the statement said.

The campaign aims to help close this gap by mobilising greater public support for displaced people across the region.

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