Jordan. Syrian refugees living in urban areas rely on UNHCR cash assistance
© UNHCR/Lilly Carlisle

Cash Assistance

Give the gift of independence and dignity.

UNHCR is expanding cash assistance so millions of displaced people can meet their needs with dignity and become more resilient.

When people are forced to flee their homes, they leave with the bare essentials. They also lose their ability to earn a secure income and provide for their families.

Unable to pay rent or buy food, medicine and other essentials, many refugees face desperate situations. With few choices, they are at risk of taking on crushing debt or resorting to harmful coping strategies, such as forced marriage or child labour.

UNHCR distributes cash assistance to particularly vulnerable refugees – giving people greater control over their lives.

Most displaced people spend their cash on everyday essentials, such as rent and groceries. Once they are able to meet their basic needs, some are able to spend their cash on education, to pay off debt or build businesses.

The economies of host communities also benefit from cash assistance, as refugees buy essential goods in local shops and pay for local services.

Cash assistance gives choice and dignity to displaced people. These benefits, combined with the comparative ease of distribution, means it now accounts for a greater share of UNHCR assistance than traditional aid items.

Nawal’s Story

After fleeing their home in south-west Syria, Nawal and her family spent time in a refugee camp before moving to the Jordanian capital, Amman. 

They slowly built a new life in the city, but when Nawal’s husband died of cancer, she became the sole provider for her five children.

“My life changed upside down after he left us,” she says. 

Alone, and with bills mounting, Nawal relied on cash assistance from UNHCR for living expenses including rent, electricity and medicine.

When funding shortfalls saw the assistance cut off, Nawal found herself adrift again.

She was delighted to find out she was receiving a winter assistance payment from UNHCR to ensure she could afford blankets and fuel to keep her family warm.

“Last winter was very hard on us, we didn’t receive any assistance. At least this year we will be able to buy new blankets and do some repairs to the roof to stop the water leaking.”

Nawal, Syrian refugee in Jordan

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