Unifor visits refugee camp


Unifor National President Jerry Dias and Human Rights and International Department Director Mohamad Alsadi traveled to Jordan recently to witness the frontline work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help Syrian refugees in that country.

Unifor is a proud international partner of UNHCR, donating funds from its Social Justice Fund to help assist Syrian refugee families access shelter, food, schooling and community services.

“We saw families today that have lost everything,” said Dias. “These people have lost their home, they’ve lost their land, they’ve lost their country. Their families are scattered everywhere but they haven’t lost their dignity and they’re living for another opportunity, an opportunity for their children.” 

Following a briefing by senior UNHCR management on the current refugee situation, Dias and Alsadi toured the Azraq Refugee Camp, where they visited the on-site hospital, participated in a variety of community activities and met with individual refugee families.

“Currently there are 10,000 shelters in the Azraq camp capable of housing up to 50,000 refugees,” said Alsadi. “Meeting the families in person provided a better understanding of the everyday challenges of living in a refugee camp.” 

In addition to those sheltered at the camp, nearly 80 per cent of Syrian refugees in Jordan live off-site in nearby communities. Eight out of 10 live under the Jordanian poverty line with limited access to health care, education and everyday necessities including food, clothing and blankets, which the camps provide.

UNHCR’s innovative Lifeline cash assistance program for refugees in Jordan is a world first, with 97 per cent of donations going directly to refugees’ pockets as they access funds through iris scan technology.

“I’m asking local unions to please adopt a family here in Jordan”, said Dias.  “It doesn’t cost a lot of money but it makes a huge difference as they transition to the new life that they deserve.”

During visits to the homes of refugee families in Amman, Jordan, Dias and Alsadi heard firsthand how Lifeline helps to provide shelter, opportunity for children to go to school and a sense of hope for the future.

“This is about opening our hearts and opening our wallets,” said Dias. “This is about us being Unifor, this is about us doing what it is that we do best and that’s about caring for people.” 

View a photo album of Unifor’s visit to the Azraq Refugee Camp: www.facebook.com/UniforCanada