• 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

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

After Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in Iraq in 2003, groups of refugees who had lived in the country for many years tried to leave the chaos and lawlessness that soon ensued. Hundreds of people started fleeing to the border with Jordan, including Palestinians in Baghdad and Iranian Kurds from the Al Tash refugee camp in central Iraq.

Aside from a few Palestinians with family connections inside the neighbouring country, the refugees were refused entry and free movement in Jordan. Thousands were soon stranded in the no-man's land between Iraq and Jordan or at the desert camp of Ruweished, located 60 kilometres inside Jordan.

Since 2003, Palestinians, Iranian Kurds, Iranians, Sudanese and Somalis have been living there and suffering the scorching heat and freezing winters of the Jordanian desert. UNHCR and its partners have provided housing and assistance and tried to find solutions – the agency has helped resettle more than 1,000 people in third countries. At the beginning of 2007, a total of 119 people – mostly Palestinians – remained in Ruweished camp without any immediate solution in sight.

Posted on 20 February 2007

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

The UN refugee agency has launched a US$60 million appeal to fund its work helping hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people. The new appeal concludes that unremitting violence in Iraq will likely mean continued mass internal and external displacement affecting much of the surrounding region. The appeal notes that the current exodus is the largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948.

UNHCR has warned that the longer this conflict goes on, the more difficult it will become for the hundreds of thousands of displaced and the communities that are trying to help them – both inside and outside Iraq. Because the burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous, it is essential that the international community support humanitarian efforts.

The US$60 million will cover UNHCR's protection and assistance programmes for Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey, as well as non-Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people within Iraq itself.

Posted on 10 January 2007

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

Responding to Syria's Tragedy Play video

Responding to Syria's Tragedy

As Syria's war heads towards a fifth year, the United Nations and partners today launched a major new humanitarian and development appeal, requesting over US$8.4 billion in funds to help nearly 18 million people in Syria and across the region in 2015
Celebrating 10 years of refugee resettlementPlay video

Celebrating 10 years of refugee resettlement

Jordan: Camp Life From a Child's ViewpointPlay video

Jordan: Camp Life From a Child's Viewpoint

A UNHCR photographic project, "Do You See What I See," lets young refugees in Jordan's Za'atari camp share their world and thoughts with others.