JORDAN: Host to half a million Iraqis, says survey

Jordan is home to nearly half a million Iraqis, mostly Sunnis, who have fled sectarian violence, an international survey reveals.

The Norway-based FAFO Institute for Applied International Studies conducted a six-month study at the request of the Jordanian government to determine the number of Iraqis in the kingdom, their religious backgrounds and economic profiles.

“While figures as high as one million or about 16 percent of the total population have been aired, this study concludes that there are between 450,000 and 500,000 Iraqi residents in Jordan as of May 2007,” FAFO’s managing director Jon Pedersen said on 13 November.

The study found that most Iraqis live in the capital, Amman; nearly 95 percent do not plan to return home, while 20 percent plan to emigrate to a third country.

Most Iraqis in Jordan come from Baghdad, having arrived after the US-led invasion in 2003, the study revealed.

The study also highlighted the economic problems facing Iraqi asylum-seekers: no more than 22 percent of Iraqi adults in Jordan work; the rest are jobless.

Nearly 60 percent of those who work have their own businesses, added the study. Most Iraqis in Jordan are middle class, but as years have passed, many have found themselves depleting their life savings because of high prices in Jordan and few job opportunities.

A large number of Iraqis rely on financial aid from relatives outside the Middle East, mostly in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden, while others rely on piece work as immigration rules prevent them from holding permanent jobs in many sectors since they do not have legal status.

Jordan has recently implemented a strict policy on its borders with Iraq to prevent a further influx of refugees as the violence in Iraq continues.

The Jordanian government says hosting the refugees has been costing it almost US$1billion annually and has appealed for help from the international community.

Source: IRIN

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