Hundreds of thousands of Syrian Refugees live in Jordan without legal documentation. They are invisible, they are losing their identities, they are exposed to different forms of exploitation and abuses, forcible relocation and deportation to Syria.
The multimedia project RELOCATED IDENTITIES, realized by INTERSOS and funded by the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), aims at documenting personal experiences of men, women and children struggling to safeguard their own identity as human beings and protect their freedom.
Italian Photographer Alessio Cupelli and multimedia producer Katia Marinelli spent several weeks with INTERSOS’ team in Jordan collecting stories and unique interviews of Syrian refugee families who face challenges in normalizing their legal and civil documents and status in Jordan.
Relocation to the detention centre of Azraq Camp, deportation to Syria, as well as harsh living conditions, including separation from family, economic hardship, work exploitation, extreme marginality, gender-based discrimination and limited access to healthcare and public services, are the consequences of incomplete or lack of documentation.
More than six years into the crisis, some 5,200,000 registered Syrian refugees still remain in countries neighbouring Syria in search of asylum and safety. Jordan alone hosts 654,887 Syrians registered by UNHCR and an equivalent number of unregistered, according to governmental estimates: the vast majority of this estimated 1,300,000 reside outside of formal refugee camps, mainly in the central and northern governorates of Amman, Mafraq, Irbid and Zarqa, where competition for access to services, labour market opportunities and humanitarian assistance continues to be intense.
Thousands of refugees have been leaving the camps of Zaatari and Azraq irregularly over recent years due to a number of reasons, including the lack of livelihood opportunities and difficult living conditions in camps, as well as hurdles in obtaining regular permission to move to host communities.
Finding solutions that can guarantee the legal status for Syrian Refugees in Jordan is critical in promoting a durable and sustainable response to the Refugee Crisis, leading the way to the return to a more normal life for those who left their country escaping from the war.
An amnesty to regularise the documentation status of Syrian refugees was unofficially announced in mid-2017: although specific requirements have not yet been clarified, the amnesty will allegedly apply to refugees who left camps before July 2017 and is expected to be formally implemented soon. Such a provision would have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of Syrians in Jordan, but – due to the lack of further information – it is still impossible to foresee its consequences in more detail.