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In my own hands - A medium-term approach towards self-reliance and resilience of Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan, January 2020

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Columbia University
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Introduction

1.1. BACKGROUND TO THE REPORT

The Syrian conflict is now entering its ninth year, calling for innovative and durable solutions to address the needs of Syrian refugees and host countries in the midst of a protracted crisis. Since 2011, an estimated 5.6 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries of Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan.1 Jordan hosts an estimated 654,568 Syrian refugees, comprising about 10% of the country’s population.2 A total of 2.7 million refugees reside in Jordan, including Iraqis, Yemenis, Sudanese and Palestinians, making it the world’s second largest refugee-hosting country per inhabitants.3,4 In a region in turmoil, Jordan’s relative political stability has made it a haven for people seeking safety and security.

Humanitarian organizations have been serving Syrians in Jordan since the beginning of the war. As the prospect of significant returns to Syria seems ever more remote, there is common agreement that current refugee assistance programs – which are not designed for protracted conflicts – need to adapt and transition to addressing medium- and longer-term needs. This requires attention to how to foster Syrian refugees’ self-reliance in a manner that promotes resilience and social cohesion with host communities. This is the central purpose of this report, which takes three critical areas – education, livelihoods and social assistance – as the lens through which to examine policy and practice in this area.

This research sought to:

  1. Critically ascertain how current policies, aid structures and humanitarian programs in Jordan address the development of refugee self-reliance and resilience in their programming;

  2. Evaluate institutional ways of working, aid governance, service provision within nongovernmental organizations (NGO), and resilience-building to generate lessons learned to address the needs and concerns of Syrians and host communities;

  3. Make practical recommendations on supporting Syrian refugees’ and host communities’ selfreliance, quality of asylum, and access to services in the medium-term. It is important to note at the outset that this report does not attempt to provide the definitive analysis of the education, livelihoods and social assistance sectors in Jordan. Rather, it strives to identify useful entry points and strategies as the international community and the Government of Jordan (GoJ) navigate what is sometimes termed the humanitarian-development nexus – highlighting opportunities to advance the interests of both refugees and vulnerable host populations, while at the same time elucidating refugee-specific challenges that need to be taken into account.

1.2. METHODOLOGY

This study employed three primary approaches to answer the research questions: 1) a systematic review of existing literature, 2) key informant interviews (KIIs), and 3) focus group discussions (FGDs).
The FGDs included a total of 93 male and female respondents of working age, drawn from the Syrian refugee population (n = 73, from camp and urban settings) and the vulnerable host Jordanian population (n=20). For further details of our methodology, see Annex 1.