The Covid-19 pandemic does not affect everyone equally, how did the preventive measures affect refugees in the camps? Which groups are most affected? Three social activists from Palestinian refugee camp Souf share their views with us, including the challenges faced by their communities amid the global pandemic.
M.A.Z. lives in Souf Camp in Jerash, Jordan. He highlights with pride the social solidarity they experience in the camp: “The Covid-19 pandemic crisis has united us and fostered a stronger sense of solidarity. We found those who we never expected to ask us about our situation taking care of us, while all obstacles between us disappeared, thanks to God.” Nonetheless, he adds that: “Our suffering in the camp is exacerbated by the situation for the daily workers among us; they are the most affected people by the crisis because no income is generated during the lockdown.” For this reason, M. A. Z. appeals to decision-makers to support this vulnerable group.
M.K.H. owns a barbershop in Souf Camp where he works in the afternoon. He also works as an employee for the Water Authority of Jordan in Jerash. He elaborates on the challenges: “In addition to the consequences of the lockdown on those earning income with daily paid jobs, the restriction of movement has caused many families, orphans and those working in the capital to worry about securing food and paying bills.” M.K. calls on the need to identify the underserved and lesser known families in urgent need, because “aid does not reach these families if the people and associations of charity do not know about them.”
T. S. speaks about the old and new problems in the camp that numbers 19,000 registered refugees: “Our problems have been concentrated in three problems: (1) overcrowding, (2) unemployment, despite the high levels of educated people in the camp, and (3) lack of income-generating projects.” With the spread of the spread of the Coronavirus, the camp was affected as the rest of the Kingdom and faced new difficulties. T. S. explains: “The camp was greatly impacted since it houses a high number of daily workers and small shop owners with families depending on the daily income to raise their children.” Despite the hardship experienced, he adds: ” One positive event that took place in the camp is the social solidarity that has manifested between neighbors who share meals and take care of each other. This is a very common aspect in the camps in general and in Souf Camp in particular.”
For further reading on the situation (for youth) in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, we refer to ARDD’s recent publication “Needs Assessment Report: Perceptions and Experiences of Youth in the Palestinian Refugee Camps in Jordan.”