of Iraqis and the statuses they hold are defined, it is difficult to develop needs-based services for them as services such as education and housing have both direct and indirect linkages to the legal status of asylum seekers. The survey also found much confusion among Iraqis on the criteria for assistance and the potential for resettlement to a third country.
This situation contributes to the already intense psychological pressure on refugees and asylum seekers. Instances of domestic violence, health problems associated with depression and psychosocial trauma signs are reported by the organizations providing support to Iraqis. Many Iraqis, especially men, stay in their houses fearing detention and deportation.
Many Iraqis cannot afford to pay fees for the birth certificates for their children when they are born in a Jordanian hospital.
Mizan is the only legal resource available and they are overwhelmed with the number of cases they have. There are legal solutions both for visa over-stayers and for lack of ability to pay for birth certificates but most Iraqis don’t know how to access these services.
Lack of employment opportunities
The lack of employment opportunities for Iraqis has contributed to the deterioration of their economic situation. A study of 100 Iraqi families found that 64 were surviving by selling their assets, others are moving to poorer and poorer sections of the city and still others have resorted to begging in the street8. Others still are entering the informal workforce. “Iraqis who are educated can easily get the good jobs in the black market, but they’re not well paid, and are exploited by working long hours without being compensated,” undercutting the wages of the formal workforce as businesses opt to hire illegal Iraqi workers9.
Most of the Iraqis have come into the Jordan with few savings, coming mainly from the selling out of their property in Iraq. Due to their protracted stay in Jordan and the lack of employment, these savings have depleted rapidly, leaving the Iraqis with no means of subsistence.
The FAFO report indicates that the majority of Iraqis wanted to work but had stopped looking for work as they considered it impossible to get a job in Jordan without a work permit. This is particularly true for the respondents in the low wealth group.10 The lack of status creates an impression among Iraqis that they have little opportunity to find employment and thus provide for their families.
The few employment opportunities the Iraqis find would be as construction workers or domestic servants or a casual labor in restaurants and shops. This is considered as loss of dignity for Iraqis, since most of them are middle class families, who had middle class jobs as teachers and shopkeepers in Iraq.
As at least half of Iraqi men do not leave the house, it is the other members of the family who work to provide for the family. Although no comprehensive survey exists, it is frequently assumed that an increasing number of women, girls and children are resorting to prostitution and child labor to provide for their families. Children are also sent to work because they have missed more than three years of school and are unable to return to the formal education system and a
8 9 10 Ibid. IRIN : Iraq-Jordan : Iraqis Cause Black Market for Jobs, 28 March 2007 Fafo study, p. 24-25.
Report of the ICMC / USCCB Mission – Protection Needs in Jordan