This UNHCR-led initiative provides essential advice and support
UNHCR Jordan has one of the largest refugee helplines in the world, answering over 200,000 calls per month and is open 24 hours.
“Refugees can call any time, with both urgent and non-urgent queries,” says UNHCR worker Rozhan Gawdan.
Since it was established in 2008, the helpline has received over 18 million calls covering the breadth of refugees’ experience. The majority of enquiries are made by refugees needing assistance; more than 50 per cent relate to cash assistance*.
Unfortunately, funding shortages mean some families aren’t able to receive cash assistance and the helpline is a vital resource for information about available support. Around 20 per cent of calls relate to resettlement. Many callers contact the helpline several times, as different issues arise.
“Every month we distribute cash assistance to around 25,000 families, so the majority of calls relate to those payments, often regarding access,” confirms Gawdan. “But the calls range from cash assistance to protection issues, to requests for information on refugee rights and services.”
The system uses Interactive Voice Response (IRV) technology, where automated information is delivered on key topics, while 10 dedicated staff are available for more complex and emergency calls. The IVR is particularly effective: in March, for example, 93 per cent of calls were resolved thanks to this pre-recorded information, without having to wait on the line for long periods. There are more than 500 pre-recorded and tailored voice messages to fit most callers’ questions.
The helpline forms a vital part of UNHCR’s community outreach in Jordan. It provides a range of ways to connect refugees with the services they need — and each other.
Using social media, the UNHCR Help website, workshops, in-person visits and dedicated community centres backed by 23 community support committees (made up of refugee and Jordanian volunteers), UNHCR reached over 90,000 refugees between January and March this year.
*The Leading Women Fund supports Syrian refugee women who are the heads of their household and struggling to meet rent payments and buy food. Donations provide cash assistance, giving them more dignity and independence as they rebuild their lives.
Without financial support, Fatima's son couldn't get the cancer treatment he needs
The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.