At the onset of the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan, an estimated 500,000 Syrian refugees resided outside the camps. Increased pressure on resources, infrastructure, education, health care, housing, essential services and increased competition for jobs out a strain on Jordanian host communities. The rising demand for social services threatened social cohesion, as access and quality of service provision diminished under the heightened demand. This put a increasing strain on Jordanian host communities and left them feeling marginalized.
In Turkey, three UN Volunteers worked together for 22 months with Kirkayak Kültür Sanat ve Doga Dernegi, and Mardin Meydanbaşı ÇATOM-Community Participation and Development Association on integrating high quality and well-supported UN Volunteers and volunteerism in their programmes to tackle challenges in social cohesion, assist in volunteer-related capacity building for non-governmental organizations, and empower Syrian women.
As an international UN Volunteer specialized in communication, Catalin was one of the first people to be sent to Cox’s Bazar to document the response of WHO Bangladesh. “Prior to the escalation of this crisis, there were already established partnerships between WHO, the government and other health partners. With the massive influx of people from Myanmar, strategies had to be adapted to this critical situation,” explains Catalin.
The speed and scale of the influx has resulted in a critical humanitarian emergency, with refugees reliant on humanitarian assistance for food and other life-saving needs.
Ashraful Islam is a national UN Volunteer supporting the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in developing women-friendly spaces, gathering data from the field and distributing medical kits.
Saima Mohammad works as an Associate Public Health Officer for UNHCR in the North-East of Jordan, near the Syrian border. Approximately 50,000 refugees, mostly women and children, are residing in Rukban camp without access to any other health facility than the local clinic.
Every morning, Saima travels almost three hours from her office in Ruwaished to Rukban, driving through sensitive military posts on a partially-paved road. In this desert area, no facility or shop are to be seen for kilometres.
From January 2014 to October 2017, over 230,000 Iraqi families have fled combat zones and armed groups, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). These families face unique protection risks due to fractured community structures, separation of families, insecure shelter arrangements, and loss of income.
As the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR supports the Turkish government response and coordinates the efforts of other UN agencies and partners across the country. With 90% of Syrian refugees living outside camps in urban and peri-urban areas, the needs for skills-development and employability are huge. As part of the Livelihoods Unit in Ankara, Cansu Güngör supports ways in which refugees can ensure their self-reliance.
In 2014, Thunayya fled her city of Al Qunaytra and the war that enveloped it. She lived in the camp ever since, and decided to volunteer as a cleaner, earning about US$8.50 per day. At the age of 48, it was the first time Thunayya had ever worked, as she had to provide for herself and her 85-year old father, her only dependent.
Sefadin, Leyla, Youssef and Zahra came from Syria, fleeing the combats in their country and finding refuge in the Domiz camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. All four have volunteered to support families of refugees with disabilities. They ran mutual help sessions about the isolation of people with disabilities who are at risk of being cut off from the humanitarian aid available in the camp.
This was a crucial issue for Zahra:
Saleh started volunteering with the Red Cross’ water and sanitation team soon after arriving at Nea Kavala, helping to ensure people in the camp have access to clean water and safe facilities. But he played more than a technician’s role, and has been central in making sure that the Red Cross has a strong relationship with the community and listens to feedback, comments and concerns from people in the camp.