|AVSI Opening Opportunities for Iraqi Refugees in Jordan|
Earlier this year, AVSI welcomed the Iraqi refugee community in Jordan to two closing ceremonies in Zarqa and Hoson to mark the completion of a successful educational program benefiting 160 displaced Iraqi children between the ages of 6 and 16 years in Jordan. The project, “Improving Conditions for Vulnerable Displaced Iraqis in the governorates of Zarqa and Irbid,” was implemented from July to December 2009 with funding from the Italian Government.
The 160 children participated in a one-month summer school at St. Joseph School in Zarqa and the Latin Patriarchate School in Hoson, followed by four months of after-school activities and enrichment courses in math, Arabic and English. Vocational training courses were also offered to 95 adults. The courses covered graphic design, sewing and tailoring, computer maintenance and carpentry.
[Below: (L) children at after-school activities in Hoson; (R) students and teacher at summer school in Zarqa]
All participants were invited to receive health services including physical examinations, emergency treatment and medication. This endeavor was made possible through the collaboration with Caritas Jordan which has clinics and partnerships with local hospitals throughout Jordan.
An estimated 500,000 Iraqis have sought refuge in Jordan over the pa st few years. Of this population, only 25% are employed and since most are not legally recognized as refugees cannot obtain work permits. Iraqi refugees in Jordan face further obstacles due to the fact that their educational and professional experience is not easily aligned with the current education and labor market scenario in Jordan. The day-to-day hardships are severe and persistent for most of the refugee community.
On the education front, local regulations had prohibited enrollment for Iraqi children in public schools until 2007, and support services for children once they entered the system were minimal, making the transition a difficult one for young children.
AVSI Jordan partnered with UNICEF, UNHCR, the Jordanian Government and local organizations to address the multi-faceted issues facing the Iraqi refugee community in Jordan and plans to continue working with this community in the future.