After fleeing Syria with her two young daughters, Hanaa was relieved to reach safety in Jordan. But she knew she now faced a different set of difficulties.

Her husband had been killed in an airstrike that targeted the family’s previously peaceful neighbourhood, leaving Hanaa as sole carer and breadwinner.

“I couldn’t stay [in Syria] as there was no food or electricity, and everything was in ruins,” she says. 

Yet in a new country, Hanaa had no idea how she would support her family. In Jordan, only 4 per cent of the work permits issued to refugees go to women.

Fortunately, the 27 year old was able to receive funds from the UNHCR via its cash assistance program. This enabled her to cover her basic living costs in Jordan.

The UNHCR believes that monthly cash payments are the most effective way to improve the lives of female refugees, as they enable women to make the right choices for their family’s particular needs.

By shopping locally, women can also support neighbourhood businesses, which reduces community tension and helps refugees feel safer in their new home.

Cash is also the easiest form of aid to deliver. To reduce fraud, the UNHCR uses biometric iris scan to identify recipients, who receive a text message each month to let them know their funds are available.

For Hanaa, these payments keep her family fed and safe.

“Without this help, I don’t know how difficult my situation would be.” 

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