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Iraqi Asylum Seekers in Jordan - page 5 / 36





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must be delivered to increase the skill levels of the present psychosocial workers and prevent premature burnout and staff turnover.


Since 2003, 4.2 million Iraqis have been displaced; 2.2 million internally and approximately 2 million externally1. Of the total number displaced around the world, 43% have been displaced to Syria and Jordan alone. Initially, Iraqi refugees arrived in Syria and Jordan at a tolerable pace and with modest economic means with which to support themselves, at least temporarily. However, since near the beginning of 2006, this steady stream has quickened to as many as 2’000 refugees arriving at the Syrian border each day2. The February 2006 bombing of the al-Askari mosque by Sunni insurgents changed the already unstable atmosphere in Iraq to one of lawlessness and insecurity. The clashes between Sunni and Shi’a insurgents have escalated, increasingly involving violence against civilians3. As a result, Iraqis are leaving because of the generalized violence, kidnapping, religious persecution, targeted death threats and economic hardship that have ensued. The situation has worsened to the extent that in December of 2006, the UNHCR pronounced prima facie status for Iraqis fleeing central and southern Iraq, giving Iraqis blanket protection and the right to stay without having had an individual status determination. Those Iraqi refugees who have made it over the border into Syria and Jordan, a feat in and of itself, have found their way into relative safety and security. They have found housing for themselves in an atmosphere in which they are no longer under the threat of generalized violence, regardless of religion. However, Iraqis in Syria and Jordan are confronted with a whole host of new challenges. As their numbers have risen and their stay prolonged, Iraqis have become increasingly desperate and poor: economically, physically and psychologically. Simultaneously, the hospitality and resources of Syria and Jordan are wearing thin and tension is mounting.

The mission met with a broad range of civil society groups, NGOs, International Organizations and resource people4. The findings outlined in this report are based in part on information gathered by the mission directly from Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers. This information was supplemented and enormously enriched by the reports, information and knowledge shared with us by agencies active in Jordan.

Protection needs of Iraqis in Jordan

Overview of protection needs

The Fafo study estimates that there are between 450,000 and 500,000 Iraqi refugees in Jordan, representing approximately 8% of the population of Jordan. An accurate assessment of the numbers of refugees is difficult to obtain due to the fact that they have integrated into the urban population but live a closed life confined to their family, do not mix and are often afraid to make themselves known because of their fear of deportation.

Nevertheless, Fafo found that 68% are Sunni, 17% are Shi’a and 12% are Christian (mostly Chaldean) and 3% others including Sabean and Nasatra. They are generally concentrated in small pockets throughout the country with 80% concentrated in Amman. In Amman, Iraqis live in the

1 2 3 Amnesty International: Iraq – Millions in Flight: the Iraqi Refugee Crisis, 24 September 2007 Ibid. The Brookings Institute – University of Bern: Iraqi Refugees in the Syrian Arab Republi: A Field-Based Snapshot, June 2007 List of people met is given in Annex B 4

Report of the ICMC / USCCB Mission – Protection Needs in Jordan


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