Syrian Refugees and Social Cohesion in Jordan

Lockhart, D. & Barker. K.
Publication language
Date published
01 Apr 2018
West Asia-North Africa Institute
Research, reports and studies
Conflict, violence & peace, Forced displacement and migration, Host Communities
Syria, Jordan
Mercy Corps, UK Department for International Development

Several organisations have sought to measure social cohesion in the Jordanian context. In 2015, the Jordanian NGO Generations for Peace conducted focus groups amongst Jordanian and Syrian parents who had developed perceptions of one another based on contact through their children’s schooling. The discussions revealed mixed results with some Jordanian participants expressing resentment towards Syrians as a result of the strain they are perceived to have imposed on the Jordanian state. Others asserted that Syrians should be welcomed in Jordan. Additional sources of tension between the two communities that were noted include increases in rental prices, competition for income generating activities, and overcrowding of public services.1

Social cohesion may be conceptualised as a crosscutting issue alongside several welfare indicators such as education, welfare, water, employment and livelihoods, and access to municipal services. The NGO REACH defines social cohesion not only as a function of community relations and individual perceptions but also as a product of access to resources and state services. Between August and September 2014, they conducted focus groups of Syrian refugees across governorates in the North of Jordan. The results of this study suggested mounting tensions on the part of the Jordanian host population, where many workshop participants noted that Syrian refugees were replacing Jordanian and Egyptian workers who had worked in seasonal agriculture jobs. Others suggested that employers prefer Syrians as a result of their willingness to work for lower wages. Thirty-nine per cent of Jordanians surveyed reported having a negative view of Syrian Refugees in their host community, and many Jordanians expressed the belief that Syrian Refugees were benefitting disproportionately from international support while the poorest Jordanians went unnoticed