Amman(womeninjordan)—The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is going to launch a counter-trafficking programme in the next few days, targeting Syrian refugees and host communities, according to IOM Project Manager Amira Mohamed.
Assessments made by several humanitarian organisations highlighted the need for counter-trafficking measures, she said, adding that the assessments cited human rights violations such as child labour and early marriages.
“We believe Syrian refugees are a high risk group who could be vulnerable to human trafficking,” Mohamed told The Jordan Times on Monday, highlighting the initiative as a means to prevent the occurrence of trafficking.
The initial phase of the programme, co-financed by the Japanese government and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will be implemented in the northern governorate of Mafraq, which hosts the Zaatari Refugee Camp, home to over 130,000 Syrians, she said.
Besides its overall goals, the campaign also seeks to bring the local community and Syrian refugees together in a bid to reduce social tension and promote cohesion, she elaborated.
The counter-trafficking programme will also include several awareness raising and capacity-building sessions, in addition to direct assistance, both cash and in-kind, for families who are most in need to prevent them from falling victim to trafficking, the IOM official said.
Highlighting the problem of child labour and early marriages, she said Syrian children are sometimes forced to work as street peddlers or to carry out different forms of manual labour inside and outside refugee camps.
Early marriage, Mohamed added, is reported as an economic coping mechanism by Syrian refugee families.
In a BBC news report that was published online in May this year, Andrew Harper, the representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Jordan, expressed concern that some of the over half-a-million Syrian refugees in the country are increasingly turning to such desperate measures.
“We don’t have enough resources to give aid to all those who need it. The vast majority of refugees are women and children. Many of them are not used to going out to work, so survival sex becomes an option,” the BBC report quoted Harper as saying.
That is one of the reasons why vocational training, held in cooperation with the British Council, and classes to combat illiteracy are essential parts of the IOM programme, Mohamed told The Jordan Times.
Given the situation of the prolonged crisis in Syria, the IOM is working on preventing trafficking among Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanian families, she reiterated.
Expressing the IOM’s gratitude for contributors, Mohamed said the IOM hopes to extend its programme to other cities hosting Syrian refugees, such as Ramtha, some 90km north of Amman.
UK-Aid, the US, China, Japan, Cyprus, Switzerland, Germany, CIDA and the UAE are among the main supporters of the IOM Syrian Crisis Response Programme, according to the official.
Photo by Muath Freij