It’s like being in the desert and suddenly someone gives you a cup of water
Warrick Page

“It’s like being in the desert and suddenly someone gives you a cup of water”

Abu Yousef, a father of six living in Jordan after fleeing across the border from Syria, recalls how a Child Cash Grant provided by UNICEF with the help of CERF, has changed his life and that of his children. 

While the Jordanian government provided health care services and education to Abu and his family, his refugee status did not allow him to obtain a work permit. Like many others, he struggled to get by and meet even the basic needs of his family. 

With support from CERF, UNICEF launched an unconditional Child Cash Grant in 2015 and provided nearly $30 per child per month to 15,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugee families living in Jordan’s host communities. The grants benefitted 55,000 children. This was part of an allocation of $9 million to complement the Jordanian government's support to Syrian refugees.

Abdul and Kalsoom Rehman and their four children were among the families who received the UNICEF grants. They had escaped from Syria in 2012.  Back home in Syria, Abdul had worked as a taxi driver. When he arrived in Jordan, he took a job in a factory, but quit after he learned that it was illegal. “I didn’t want to break the law,” he said. “They treat us well here, and I want to protect my dignity.” 

It’s like being in the desert and suddenly someone gives you a cup of water
Syrian refugee Arkan, 10, stands outside the Makani Centre, at an informal tented settlement south of the capital Amman, Jordan.

Abdul and Kalsoom said the grants had arrived at a critical time. Their rent was going up – common in Amman and elsewhere in Jordan as the influx of people drove up demand for housing – and the value of WFP vouchers had declined.  

The programme also helped the refugees avoid negative ways of coping with their situation. Among the families receiving the grants, survival tactics like selling or redeeming food vouchers for money and borrowing cash declined.

The Child Cash Grants also gave the refugees extra stability at an uncertain time: Fewer children dropped out of school, with benefits for entire families.

CERF’s funding not only helped Jordan continue to serve as a generous host to neighbours in need, but also made a life-saving difference for the refugees themselves. UNICEF Jordan Representative Robert Jenkins was pleased with the results. “The Child Cash Grant programme,” he said, “is one of UNICEF’s most efficient interventions in terms of having an immediate direct positive change in the lives of vulnerable Syrian refugee children in Jordan.” 

Since 2011, CERF has provided $213 million for life-saving humanitarian aid in response to the Syria crisis, including $111 million for aid in Syria and $102 million in countries in the region hosting Syrian refugees. CERF helped humanitarian organizations to sustain assistance and provide protection to the most vulnerable people, relieve food insecurity and malnutrition and support health care.