Manal Ahmad, a 30-year old Syrian refugee, using the vouchers she received from Caritas Jordan. Photo by Caritas Jordan

Manal Ahmad, a 30-year old Syrian refugee, using the vouchers she received from Caritas Jordan. Photo by Caritas Jordan

“This is a nightmare. We will wake up soon to find ourselves in our beloved Syria,” said Ismail Ahmad Al Ajrab, a 30 year old refugee from the Syrian city of Homs. “I feel sometimes that this is all just a dream, but then the difficulties hit you and I know it is our reality now.”

Syrian refugees are streaming across the border into Jordan, fleeing the 22-month-old uprising. More than 26,500 have crossed over the border since 1 January, almost double the figures for December. Tens of thousands more are waiting to cross to join the 300,000 refugees already in the county.

Ismail fled eight months ago with his wife, Jihan, and their three boys: Rafiq, 6, Mashaal, 4, and one-year old Yousef. “I was under arrest for 4 months in Syrian. Through a miracle, I managed to escape with my family to Jordan,” he said.

Once in Jordan, he learned from other Syrian refugees about the Caritas Jordan centre in Zarqa. He went there and was registered. “I was really happy to be met by welcoming people,” he said. He received fuel, food and other aid items.  “I couldn’t ask for more. Thank you so much Caritas,” he said. “I can’t wait to see the expression of my kids when I bring them to get new clothes.”

Icy weather is one of the greatest challenges. The refugees left on foot, with no warm clothes. In Zaatari Camp, heavy rain and harsh blizzards submerging 500 tents.

Caritas Jordan has launched the winterization campaign for the Syrian urban refugees along with vulnerable Jordanians. The project began in December and will last until February 2013.  So far, 1340 people in Amman, Irbid, Zarqa, Madaba and Mafraq have received a heater, blankets, a stove, and vouchers for food and other aid items.

“The vouchers are lifesavers,” said  Manal Ahmad, a 30-year old refugee from the city of Daraa.  Back in Syria, Manal and her husband had a normal life. “All of a sudden, we found ourselves here with nothing,” she said.

Manal arrived with her two children last September, both of whom have medical problems. Mariam, 4, has severe kidney problems and Omar, 1, is blind. “I had to flee to Jordan since my two kids are sick,” she said. “They need regular medical care. It can’t be provided nowadays in Syria”.

Over 68,000 refugees have registered with Caritas Jordan.

“I knew about Caritas first thing when I arrived from my neighbours. I went directly there and was received with much love and attention,” said Manal.

“I received 6 vouchers for different materials.  With them, I managed to go and choose by myself what my kids need from fresh food to clothes and shoes. I would have never imagined getting all these needs. These vouchers were definitely a lifesaver for me and my kids.”