A man is posing for the camera.

Abu, a Syrian refugee, fled his home in Aleppo, Syria alongside his family to Jordan in 2016. © UNHCR/Lilly Carlisle

The COVID-19 pandemic that has had the world in its grip for the past two years has made life very difficult for Abu Ahmad (pictured above) and his family.

As a construction worker in Aleppo, Syria, Abu was able to support his family for years; but a number of health issues prevented him from working since fleeing to Jordan in 2016. More than a decade since the start of the crisis in Syria, Abu and his family are among the 5.5 million Syrians hosted in neighbouring countries in the region, including more than 670,000 in Jordan.

Abu and his family initially lived in Azraq Camp before relocating to Jordan’s capital, Amman. The family now depends on the two eldest sons — Ahmad, 18, and Mohammad, 16 — to provide an income. But the informal work opportunities they relied on prior to the pandemic have dried up and their inability to afford rent led to their eviction from their previous home.

“We normally only have one meal a day, and sometimes we have to prioritize feeding the young children over ourselves,” says Abu. Cash assistance from UNHCR has offered a lifeline to help address increasing poverty exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Abu, he was able to pay rent and buy food to feed his family. “I bought chicken and fruit so the family could have a nice meal,” he says, with a smile.

Um Hussein (centre) is pictured with her two youngest daughters Ikhlas, 17, and Anwar 25.

UNHCR’s cash assistance is also pivotal in helping vulnerable refugee families, like Um Hussein’s, during the coldest months of the year. The 62-year-old is a Syrian refugee living in Azraq camp in Jordan, with her seven daughters, three of whom are deaf and living with physical disabilities. She says winter is always a hard season. “The heater isn’t enough to warm us at night.”

“The long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and increased needs of refugees during winter is a potentially disastrous combination. Winter assistance this year is more crucial than ever to help the poorest refugees keep a roof over their heads and their families safe from the cold,” says Carolyn Ennis, UNHCR Deputy Representative in Jordan.

A few ways UNHCR is helping with your support:

  • Providing relief from harsh winter weather with the distribution of winter clothing, sleeping bags, and additional plastic sheets to some 168,500 households
  • Supporting community centres providing protection-related services such as catch-up classes for children and legal assistance for IDPs, returnees, host communities, and other individuals affected by crisis
  • Home-based rehabilitation support to the elderly, including advice on nursing care, physical rehabilitation methods, and assistance to cope with daily tasks
  • Supporting more than 1,100 people in 2021 with basic business training and business support packages as part of our ongoing livelihood strategy

UNHCR in Syria provides protection and assistance to refugees, internally displaced people, returnees and stateless people based on identified needs and vulnerabilities.




Originally published by: UNHCR Canada 2 St. Clair Avenue West, Suite 802, Toronto, Ontario M4V 1L5.

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