In the Middle East and North Africa, Jesuit Refugee Service works predominantly with urban refugees. The first projects were initially established in 2008 in response to the high number of Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan. These two countries hosted the majority of Iraqi refugees, who make up the second largest group under UNHCR responsibility worldwide at an estimated 1.8 million.
Since this interview was recorded in March 2012, JRS has adapted and expanded its existing projects in Syria in order to adequately respond to the needs of the 2.5 internally displaced people (IDPs) and to the nearly 500,000 refugees spilling across Syria’s borders into Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
In the north of Jordan, where there is the highest number of Syrians, JRS has created teams who accompany refugees through family visits and support them with food and cash assistance for rent. Although 30,000 Syrians are in Za’atari Refugee Camp, more than double that amount are living outside of the camp, amongst the local population, and are in urgent need of support. JRS Jordan is conducting assessments to fill the gaps outside of the recently established Za'atari refugee camp in northern Jordan.
In Amman, JRS supports more than 200 Syrian refugee families through family visits and needs assessments conducted daily. At the informal education project in Amman, 25% of the children who attend are Syrian. Other programs are Higher education (Jesuit Commons) and psychosocial programs.