We were blessed to have the Ziadat family from Amman, Jordan present in our Portland meeting this year. Several members got an extra blessing as Dr. Ziadat came to visit their clinics after the meeting. Recently, I asked Dr. Ziadat to share about the real situation with refugees in his area. He has shared the following account:
According to the UNHCR Refugee Agency there are about 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Jordan half of them are actively registered to the agency. About 60,000 of them live in Azraq camp in the middle of Jordanian desert. Over half are children. They live in tents and shelters with no electricity or running water.
Also in Jordan there are about 200,000 refugees from Iraq and most of them live in Amman and not in camps as they are more capable to afford to live in an expensive capital city. 15% are Christian refugees living in clusters in or around churches getting regular material aid and all kinds of help from local churches.
There are also several thousands of refugees coming from Sudan, Libya and Yemen.
Refugees in Jordan comprises about 30% of the population and make a great strain on the economy, the health care system, the educational institutions, water and electricity supplies. They compete with Jordanians for jobs and have caused a rise in house rental costs.
The dramatic influx of refugees to Jordan made it difficult for them to access medical care in public hospitals and many have to pay to get medical help. As the refugees resources are diminishing because they are not allowed to work legally, many of them have to get help from NGOs to cover the expenses. Many of the refugees are in desperate need for medical help especially children and old people with acute and chronic medical conditions.
Jordan has a very good reputation on high quality medical care and used to be the destination for all who seek efficient treatment in the middle east, but after the suicidal attacks on the Syrian Jordanian border killing 7 soldiers and for security reasons the borders were closed with severe restrictions on people coming from other war stricken countries.
All refugees in Jordan who have a united nation registration card can have all kinds of medical care in public hospitals for free and they are usually treated on the same level as locals. If anyone wants to be treated in the private sector he has to pay or an organization should cover the expenses. Almost all Syrian refugees are treated in public hospitals as they can’t afford the treatment in the private sector.
In the year 2015 I started The Healer Eye Clinic in Amman, a private clinic, so I started to have patients from Libya and Yemen, and I had about 500 patients most of them were in need for cataract surgery, laser and injections for advanced diabetic retinopathy. Almost all of them were covered by insurance companies selected and supported by their governments. All of them were excited to have a Christian Jordanian to treat them and for most of them it was the first experience especially for those from Yemen who had never heard of Christ or Christians. I had no one to reject my service even those with a hijab or face veil but on the contrary they were very welcoming and grateful. Despite the ban on their coming to Jordan in the year 2016 I still have correspondence with them and having few new recommended patients.
For the year 2016 and until now most of my refugee patients are from Basra in Iraq fleeing the evil state. Almost all of them were forced to leave leaving all their possessions; a few leaving factories and businesses behind. Coming with nothing made them in desperate need for accommodation, food and medical care.
I do a free eye check for those suffering from eye problems and I go also to the free medical days in other cities organized by local churches, we distribute glasses and medications but we are not able to do cataract and other eye surgeries for those who cannot afford it. Now we are working on a way that enables us to make surgeries more affordable.
Yes, refugees are making a huge strain on all aspects of life in Jordan. I am confident that it is not their fault and that they are in dire straits, but it is still our responsibility and duty to help them in every way we can and I pray for our gracious and almighty God to open new doors to reduce their suffering. We all pray for peace and stability in our region. Please pray for us.