War related displacement of Iraqis accompanied by a breakdown of social structures; a devaluation or modification of roles; ethnic, political and religious persecution; loss of family members; and the feeling of being uprooted26 fractures long-standing social bonds that hold communities together. One of the largest challenges for displaced populations in urban environments is rebuilding their community, especially in a setting that is perceived as unsafe and inhospitable, as do Iraqis in Amman. Most of the families which the protection mission visited had limited social connections outside of their nuclear and extended family. The lack of community formation was striking.
One solution to this situation is to re-establish the social bonds that are the foundation of a healthy community. This is a long-term process of building trust, of forgiveness, of healing. The need to undergo such a process has been recognized by the many service providers who are opening community centers. The type of programming and services delivered from the community centers is of vital importance to the success of rebuilding a sense of community, as is the method of their delivery. The protection mission thus proposes value added community centers as an important tool in the rebuilding of a sense of community.
Conceptual outline of required actions for value-added community centers
The protection mission noticed that very few social, cultural, religious or sporting activities are occurring in Amman among the Iraqi population. Service providers repeatedly told us that Iraqis are afraid to come out of their homes and only do so for essential activities such as grocery shopping or medical appointments. Iraqi families living in densely populated refugee neighborhoods told us that they know very few other Iraqis living around them. Because of their isolation, Iraqis do not have access to important and relevant information about local resources, their legal status and rights and
the condition of their relatives living in Iraq.
Value-added community centers are a concept that would enhance the value of existing community centers. Although these community centers may already have services such as: social and recreational programming for different age and gender groups; space for community celebrations and events; psychosocial programming and support and health screening, the key components of a value-added community center are mobile outreach teams, media centers and comprehensive case management services.
Mobile outreach teams are needed to advertise the services of the community center, to build trust between the Iraqis and Jordanians in each locale and to bring services to those who cannot come to the center.
IOM, Psychosocial Status of IDP Communities in Iraq, September 2005
Report of the ICMC / USCCB Mission – Protection Needs in Jordan