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What are the effects of cash transfers for refugees in the context of protracted displacement? Findings from Jordan


Written by Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Rebecca Holmes

The current refugee crisis requires new thinking and durable policies that move beyond simply meeting the short‐term immediate needs of refugees. In the context of this protracted crisis, the humanitarian response has included a focus on cash transfer programming as a way to support Syrian refugees in Jordan to meet their basic needs. While evidence on cash transfers in stable contexts has been well‐documented over the last two decades, little is known about the potential effects of cash transfers on populations in protracted displacement.

This article examines the economic and social effects of a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) cash transfer programme for Syrian refugees in urban areas in Jordan. The authors find that almost all beneficiaries used the transfer to pay rent, and that this reduces stress and anxiety among beneficiaries. These effects are important, but depend on the continuation of cash transfer support.

For longer‐term impacts, assistance for refugees needs to move beyond short‐term support and align better with national interventions and a broader enabling policy environment, including refugees' right to work.

Jessica Hagen‐Zanker, Martina Ulrichs and Rebecca Holmes