Inclusive community centre opens its doors to Jordanians, refugees
AMMAN — After surviving a mass shooting in Deir Ezzor in Syria, refugee Nasr Obaid escaped the scourge of war and found a “new life, a new home, and a new family” at the Princess Basma Community Development Centre in Amman.
Obaid, who now works with the UNHCR-supported Community Support Committees (CSCs) at the centre, said that “joining the committee polished my personality and sharpened my skills”, adding “now, I am happy to provide help and support to other refugees as well”.
The UNHCR and the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development on Monday officially inaugurated a new inclusive community centre located inside Princess Basma Community Development Centre in Amman’s Jabal Al Nuzha neighbourhood.
Launched under the patronage of HRH Princess Basma, the new centre will provide Jordanians and refugees of all nationalities with various activities and a space to come together to exchange safely as well as to facilitate the refugees’ communication with the UNHCR to receive assistance and legal services.
“This centre is a small prototype of a wider vision that does not only address the humanitarian needs of people, but also their talents, cultures, spirit of giving, coexistence and the exchange of experiences,” Princess Basma said at the event.
“We seek to inspire others in adopting this approach nationally and globally, as this interaction among people from various backgrounds is a great example that we should all follow,” HRH, who is the president of the Goodwill Campaign’s higher committee, added.
UNHCR representative in Jordan Stefano Severe welcomed the initiative, saying “moving to a model of an inclusive centre that involves Jordanians, as well as refugees of different nationalities, can be a powerful tool, not only to promote peaceful coexistence between refugees and the host community, but also between the different refugee groups themselves”.
“This creates a positive atmosphere and a better protection environment for all, in line with UNHCR’s One Refugee approach,” Severe highlighted.
During the inauguration ceremony, Princess Basma, Severe and other officials toured the new centre where they talked with the staff and volunteers who briefed them on the centre’s role and activities.
They also toured the centre’s hall where refugee representatives from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen showcased their countries’ cuisines dressed in their traditional outfits.
Princess Basma then chatted with the elderly beneficiaries of the centre, who shared their thoughts and concerns. “The gatherings and the talk sessions with the support committee are truly relieving and soothing,” one of the elderly told the princess, describing the centre’s officials as “angels, not humans”.
Najwa Bdour, director of Princess Basma Community Development Centre, noted that 17 members “full of passion and ambition” worked on translating the idea of the project into reality.
She spoke of the various aspects of the new centre, which include offering various daily activities for refugees in a way that is tailored to the needs of women, children, youth, people with disabilities and older groups, noting that the centre was rehabilitated with some new rooms where the UNHCR will be able to provide services directly to the beneficiaries.
Prior to the official launch, the director said that 3,334 refugees benefitted from the 65 activities organised during the first 8 months of the project.
Jordan is home to 750,000 refugees from nearly 60 nationalities, most of them are Syrians, but there are also sizeable populations of Iraqis, Yemenis, Sudanese and Somalis, amongst others, a statement by the UNHCR said, adding that the CSCs in Jordan provide a “novel and community-led approach” to respond to the needs of urban refugees, bridging gaps between refugees and Jordanians.
It also helps the refugee agency to give the right assistance to those who need it the most, the statement concluded.