The New Social Protection Paradigm and Universal Coverage
Edited by Rana Jawad, Nicola Jones and Mahmood Messkoub
Chapter 9: Interrogating the potential of a “cash plus” approach to tackle multidimensional vulnerability in humanitarian contexts: the case of Syrian refugees in Jordan
The 1.3 million Syrians living in Jordan face a highly uncertain future. They are unable to return home due to the unabated conflict in Syria and have very restricted employment options in Jordan. With savings and assets often depleted, and borrowing options largely limited to family and neighbours, UN social assistance (cash transfers and food vouchers) is frequently all that prevents tens of thousands of refugee families from descending into destitution. However, this assistance is increasingly jeopardized by budget cuts and donor fatigue. This chapter draws on primary mixed methods research carried out in 2016 and 2017 aimed at assessing the effects of cash assistance programmes available to Syrian refuges living in Jordan – one provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and another provided, to families with children, by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The chapter explores the potential and limitations of existing assistance modalities to tackle refugee families’ complex economic and social vulnerabilities, drawing on a transformative social protection framework. The chapter concludes that refugees’ needs extend beyond the material; with their livelihoods and social networks disrupted, and violence and fear too often a feature of their lives as refugees in host communities, cash alone cannot adequately address their protection and psychosocial vulnerabilities. In humanitarian contexts, such as the Syrian crisis, in order to guarantee access to the human rights delineated by international conventions, the global community has a duty to deliver a more transformative cash-plus approach to social protection for both adults and children.
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