In Jordan, over 80 percent of the 750 000 refugees from Syria and other countries reside outside of the main refugee camps. The majority of them live below the national poverty line of €80 per month. To meet the basic needs of refugees in the most direct, cost-effective and dignified way, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) began distributing cash to Iraqi refugees in Jordan in 2008, expanding to Syrian refugees at the onset of the Syria war in 2012. With funding from the European Union, last year UNHCR provided cash assistance to almost 33 000 refugee families on a monthly basis.
The delivery of cash assistance in Jordan has also harnessed innovation; all refugees are registered using iris-scan technology and their identity is confirmed through a secure and encrypted network connection when they are receiving the funds. Refugees receive their monthly cash through ATMs by scanning their iris, after receiving an SMS from UNHCR that their cash is ready to pick up.
“Cash is a dignified way to deliver humanitarian aid, particularly in protracted crises,” says Matteo Paoltroni, an EU technical assistant in Jordan. “Refugees themselves are benefitting from cash, as well as the local economy.”
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