• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

New registration site in Jordan clears Syrian refugee backlog

Making a Difference, 30 August 2013

© UNHCR/J.Kohler
Instead of months of waiting for documents, a new facility means Syrian refugees in Jordan will be able to get fully registered in a short, single visit.

Amman, 30 August (UNHCR) Even as Syrian refugees continue to flood across the border, the UN refugee agency expects next week to slash the time they need to register in Jordan from up to eight months to a single day.

Provided external events do not interfere, UNHCR plans from Sunday, 1 September, for the Anmar Hmoud Registration Centre to process new arrivals in a few minutes on the same day they approach the UN refugee agency. A year ago a Syrian refugee approaching UNHCR could wait six to eight months.

The centre -- named after the late head of the Syrian Refugee

Department of the government of Jordan to honour his work for refugees -- opened at the start of July and has double the capacity of the previous registration facilities at the UNHCR office.

Since the Moslem holy month of Ramadan ended three weeks ago UNHCR has scheduled 3,500 people a day for initial registration or renewals of documents. An additional 1,000 Syrian refugees daily were also given future appointments but that delay will now be eliminated. There are some 482,000 Syrian refugees registered in Jordan.

UNHCR expects the previous no-shows of approximately 10 percent of appointments to decline as word spreads of faster registration. UNHCR has already seen a noticeable increase in the number of Syrian refugees requesting appointments.

"We think it is related to the start of the school year," said Berween Younes, UNHCR officer in charge of the registration center. "They know by now that school administrations ask for the registration document."

Syrian refugees, who previously had to return after the initial registration and spent four to six hours at the UNHCR Amman office to get their final documents, now need a maximum of 50 minutes at the Anmar Hmod Centre to do both.

"It's a lot more organized and efficient," says 86-year-old Amna, a refugee who has used both offices. Adding her son to her file had taken more than a year as her son's appointment was postponed three times.

The improvement has also been felt by UNHCR staff. Niveen, with 12 years experience in reception and registration, said the new site made it easier to identify vulnerable refugees who need faster service.

"You can actually see them sitting in a large hall, rather than crammed on top of each other in front of the gate," she said. "Since it is a more spacious area, we have been able to hire more staff who can talk to the refugees at the reception area to detect those that need earlier appointments."

Now it has 44 interviewers at the centre, operating from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. five days a week. Advanced technology which carries no risks to the confidentiality of refugees prevents double registration.

"It has become a one-stop shop, where the refugee can be referred to the different sections in the same visit. If I see that the refugee I am registering needs an assessment by community services, we can do this on the spot, rather than have the refugee go back and forth on multiple visits," said Khaled, a registration interviewer at the centre.

With the problem of an efficient registration centre now solved, UNHCR's must reach those who can't visit the centre. In September, seven mobile teams will register those refugees at home and issue documents on the spot.

"The next step is to go even further and reach all those cases that can not approach the registration center for very good reasons such as a physical or economic handicap," said Younes. "We will go to them."

By Reem Alsalem in Amman




UNHCR country pages

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie returned to the Syrian capital Damascus on 2 October, 2009 to meet Iraqi refugees two years after her last visit. The award-winning American actress, accompanied by her partner Brad Pitt, took the opportunity to urge the international community not to forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees who remain in exile despite a relative improvement in the security situation in their homeland. Jolie said most Iraqi refugees cannot return to Iraq in view of the severe trauma they experienced there, the uncertainty linked to the coming Iraqi elections, the security issues and the lack of basic services. They will need continued support from the international community, she said. The Goodwill Ambassador visited the homes of two vulnerable Iraqi families in the Jaramana district of southern Damascus. She was particularly moved during a meeting with a woman from a religious minority who told Jolie how she was physically abused and her son tortured after being abducted earlier this year in Iraq and held for days. They decided to flee to Syria, which has been a generous host to refugees.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

As world concern grows over the plight of hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians, including more than 200,000 refugees, UNHCR staff are working around the clock to provide vital assistance in neighbouring countries. At the political level, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres was due on Thursday (August 30) to address a closed UN Security Council session on Syria.

Large numbers have crossed into Lebanon to escape the violence in Syria. By the end of August, more than 53,000 Syrians across Lebanon had registered or received appointments to be registered. UNHCR's operations for Syrian refugees in Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley resumed on August 28 after being briefly suspended due to insecurity.

Many of the refugees are staying with host families in some of the poorest areas of Lebanon or in public buildings, including schools. This is a concern as the school year starts soon. UNHCR is urgently looking for alternative shelter. The majority of the people looking for safety in Lebanon are from Homs, Aleppo and Daraa and more than half are aged under 18. As the conflict in Syria continues, the situation of the displaced Syrians in Lebanon remains precarious.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Turkish Camps Provide Shelter to 90,000 Syrian Refugees

By mid-September, more than 200,000 Syrian refugees had crossed the border into Turkey. UNHCR estimates that half of them are children, and many have seen their homes destroyed in the conflict before fleeing to the border and safety.

The Turkish authorities have responded by building well-organized refugee camps along southern Turkey's border with Syria. These have assisted 120,000 refugees since the crisis conflict erupted in Syria. There are currently 12 camps hosting 90,000 refugees, while four more are under construction. The government has spent approximately US$300 million to date, and it continues to manage the camps and provide food and medical services.

The UN refugee agency has provided the Turkish government with tents, blankets and kitchen sets for distribution to the refugees. UNHCR also provides advice and guidelines, while staff from the organization monitor voluntary repatriation of refugees.

Most of the refugees crossing into Turkey come from areas of northern Syria, including the city of Aleppo. Some initially stayed in schools or other public buildings, but they have since been moved into the camps, where families live in tents or container homes and all basic services are available.

Turkish Camps Provide Shelter to 90,000 Syrian Refugees

Switzerland: UNHCR Finding Pathways for Syrian RefugeesPlay video

Switzerland: UNHCR Finding Pathways for Syrian Refugees

In the pursuit of innovative ways to help Syrian refugees, a conference in Geneva considers proposals for other pathways such as humanitarian admission, scholarships, family reunification and labour mobility.
Syria: Hope Returns to Baba AmrPlay video

Syria: Hope Returns to Baba Amr

Twelve out of 36 neighbourhoods in the city of Homs are in desperate need of reconstruction. One of them is Baba Amr, where clashes in 2011-2012 uprooted some 80,000 people. Four years on, returning residents and Syrians displaced from other parts of the country are coming together to rebuild the area.
Syria: Heading Home to RuinsPlay video

Syria: Heading Home to Ruins

Nearly half a million residents from Homs and surrounding areas have been displaced by heavy fighting, some multiple times within Syria, while others have fled abroad. One of the biggest challenges facing returnees, is rebuilding their homes in the rubble of old Homs and Hamediyeh.