Reem and Noor are sisters-in-law who share this bare two-room apartment with their extended family. The family is struggling to make ends meet with the cash assistance and food coupons they receive from UNHCR. But they are glad that their young children are now safe.
The refugee crisis in urban areas is far less visible, but no less serious than in the camps. Many urban refugees are living in unheated or unfurnished apartments, garages, or tents, which are often overcrowded. Many families are facing increased debt as they struggle to pay for soaring rent and rising costs of food, water, and other basic essentials. With no access to income, their problems will only multiply. Families are already running out of money for rent and other essentials. Many will be forced to desperate measures to get by. Some families have already adopted negative coping strategies, including illegal low-paying work, reducing the number of daily meals, child labour, begging, and transactional sex.
Many Syrians feel abandoned by the international community, because urban refugees are not seen as a priority even though 75% of refugees live outside camps. They can sense the growing suspicion of their new neighbours, knowing that their sheer presence puts a strain on Jordanian society at large. The constant worry about financial insecurity and the resentment of their neighbours adds psychological stress to families. Sometimes the daily struggle to get by in Jordan is so overwhelming that they make the heartbreaking decision to return to a war-torn Syria. They return to a country where they feared for their lives because the bare existence as a refugee was unbearable itself.”