“The complex family, social, and economic challenges faced by Palestine refugees in Jordan can be addressed through collaborative efforts like the one implemented through the Marka project,” said UNRWA Deputy Director in Jordan, Dorothee Klaus. Dr. Klaus was speaking at a workshop with partners from a recently concluded two-year Marka project. The Marka project saw UNRWA, in partnership with UNICEF and community organizations, pilot a multidisciplinary referral pathway to address the relentless psychosocial challenges faced by Palestine refugee families in the Marka area in Jordan.
“UNRWA has introduced our organization to truly deserving vulnerable families,” said Sana’a Merzeh of the Jordanian Women’s Union (JWU). Sana’a recounted how Hitaf (not her real name), a 38-year-old mother of four, who was referred to JWU by UNRWA is steadily recovering from gender-based violence against her and her children. “She is now able to care for her children, her self-confidence is better, and she now runs a small business to fend for her children,” Sana’a explained.
Hitaf’s story is not an isolated case. Dima (not her real name), a 43-year-old mother of five, was referred by UNRWA to the Development Family Association (DFA), an organization that provides psychosocial and economic empowerment services to the most vulnerable people. “She was depressed and harboured suicidal thoughts,” said Safieh Asha’ar, the psychologist who received her. Dima moved back to her father’s house after her abusive husband rejected her and her children. One of her children is epileptic and another suffers from cerebral palsy, both conditions that require expensive lifelong medications that UNRWA health centres do not have the capacity to provide. However, through UNRWA’s collaboration with DFA, Dima received several months of psychosocial counselling, finance management training and an interest-free loan. She is now running her own business and hopes to use part of her income to meet the costs of her children's medical expenses.
“By building strong referrals pathways with community-based organizations, UNRWA has been able to deliver more services for the refugees. For the past two years, the Marka project has made over 1,200 referrals for 123 families,” said Noor, the Marka project referral pathway coordinator. UNICEF Child Protection Department Chief Maha Homsi added: “UNICEF is committed to working with UNRWA to reinforce the resilience of refugees and host communities by forming strong pathways between organizations that build on each other’s strength to accomplish more for the refugees.”
When closing the Marka project partners’ workshop, UNRWA Deputy Chief for Relief and Social Services Kholoud Homsi announced the Agency’s decision to expand the project to other Palestine refugee camps in Jordan. “With UNICEF’s support, we are increasing services to serve the most vulnerable women, men and children in other camps Jordan,” she said.