Our next group of IWitnesses is travelling to Jordan with the UN’s Refugee Agency, UNHCR. They’ll visit Syrian families who fled their homes in fear for their lives, and they’ll see how funding from our Brighter Lives for Refugees campaigns is helping their children get light in their homes and communities. Aoife McDonnell from UNHCR Jordan is here today to tell us more about what our IWitnesses—and you!—will see on this journey.
Your mission is to follow us to one of the world’s largest refugee-hosting countries in the world, with Jordanians opening their arms and homes to those fleeing conflict in the region since its creation as a state. This hospitality and generosity is renowned in the region, but it has also come at a price. It’s been four years since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, and UNHCR has registered 627,000 people in the country; over half of them are children. This marks a substantial increase in the population of a country of just 6.5 million people.
UNHCR’s role is to protect and assist those who have fled, and during this three-day mission we want you to see as much as possible of our operation. With 85% of Syrian refugees living outside of camps, we will start the day in Khalda registration centre, followed by visiting the homes of Syrian families with members of the UNHCR field team.
The following two days will be spent travelling to the refugee camps, beginning with Zaatari, one of the largest camps in the world and currently hosting some 85,000 people. The bustle of the market street is a welcome respite from the arid, desert landscape on which the camp is built. We will meet with families and hear their stories, where the population is mainly from southern Syria, the border just 15 km away.
For the final day, we will go to Azraq Camp. With temperatures quickly rising, you will see some of the challenges for the team working here but, even more so, for the population who are living here. Staying late into the evening, we will witness the solar streets lights slowly turning on, giving light and life after dark in this remote camp.
Our focus will be to spend as much time with Syrian families as possible, to hear in their words the difficulties they are facing, but also to see the triumph of the human spirit in times of difficulty. The Brighter Lives campaign has made a huge impact on the lives of those whom we help here in Jordan, giving light to families in some of the most difficult environments.