Danish integration minister visits DRC’s Community Center in Jordan

Danish Minister for Integration Inger Stoejberg heard the needs of Syrian refugees living in Jordan during her first visit to the Middle East region on Saturday August 15. She is pictured with Dr Aminah Al Tamimi, DRC-Jordan Pyschosocial Counselor (left) and Rahaf Sabbagh, DRC-Jordan Senior Protection Office holding one year-old baby Sham (”Damascus”).

"It's good that she comes here and sees for herself that we are humans. Not terrorists or nameless people."

"We Syrians are humans who want peace and to be able to give our children education and a chance to have a life. That is all."

Syrian refugee, Mohammad Eid Joumma, 46, was part of the Danish Refugee Council's team that welcomed the Danish Minister for Immigration, Integration and housing, Inger Stoejberg, to Jordan Saturday August 15.

The father of three who was forced to flee Homs, Syria, for Jordan when so called Islamic State forces (ISIS) entered his home in 2013, said he tries to keep a brave face for his young family but concerns about meeting the next month's rent, having enough money to pay for food, basic medication and education, he admits, has him constantly worried about his family's future.

"We want to be able to look after ourselves but we came here with nothing and need support," he said.

On what is understood to be the new Minister's first visit to refugee centers in the Middle East, Inger Stoejberg's day in Jordan was divided between a vist to Zaatari refugee camp and the DRC's Community Center in Amman, Jordan.

With over 85 per cent of the 628,000 registered Syrian's seeking refuge in Jordan living outside camps, DRC staff and beneficiaries were eager to impress on the Minister the harsh reality faced, and the importance of support.

Over two thirds of Syrian refugees in Jordan are now living below the poverty line, according to recent UN refugee statistics.

After taking time to meet with DRC staff, Ms Stoejberg said she was "extremely impressed" with work seen.

"It is a huge task to handle the large amount of Syrian refugees arriving in Jordan and here in Amman. I think that a great deal of the succes of this center can be attributed to the fact, that it is open both to the Syrian refugees and the local community. Refugees, and especially the kids, are vulnerable. This place offers support and help with the most basic needs, but most of all it represents comfort and stability in the lives of people, that are in need of just that," Stoejberg said.

DRC Middle East North Africa director, Peter Klansoe, said he wanted the minister to come away from the visit with a better understanding of the background and reasoning for Syrian aslyum seekers in Denmark.

"I hope the new minister got a more thorough understanding of the refugee situation in the region, the conditions they face and the great effort done by the hosting communities to assist, but also the strain it brings."

As DRC's MENA response transitions from the humanitarian spectrum (still acute in Syria, Iraq and Libya) to self-reliance programming, Community Centers are seen as an essential social rehabilitation tool for displaced populations to access vital livlihood services and to enahnce socail cohesion amongst host and refugee populations.

Since opening its first Community Center in Damascus, Syria in 2008, DRC now manages 20 Community Centers, 9 Women Centers and 11 Child Friendly Spaces across the MENA region.