Jordan is one of the three main countries where Iraqis have fled after escaping their war torn homeland. It’s home to the second highest population of Iraqi refugees after Syria.
The Jordanian government estimates that as of January 2010, there are between 450,000 and 500,000 Iraqis living in Jordan. Around 31,000 Iraqis have registered with UNHCR.
According to the UNHCR as of December 2009 there are around 1.8 million Iraqi refugees in the world, most of them living in Iraq’s neighbouring countries of Jordan, Syria and Iran.
As of the start of this year, Syria is home to 1 million Iraqi refugees, while Iran’s population of Iraqi refugees is around 48,000.
The majority of Iraqi’s living in Jordan are Sunni Muslim. Jordan is not a signatory to the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention, but UNHCR says: “the Government of Jordan recognises the Iraqis on its territory as guests. It continues to welcome them and allows them to live in the country in safety. However, the Iraqis do not have a clear legal status nor the right to work.”
Most Iraqis in Jordan live in urban areas, mostly in slum-like conditions, which is the case across the Middle East. The UNHCR says in the Middle East and South West Asia, almost 80 per cent of refugees live in urban areas. In Africa around 15 per cent of refugees live in urban areas, while almost 60 per cent live in camps.
Iraqi refugees in Jordan have no right to access social security services. According to UNHCR staff in Jordan, if Iraqis can get access to the Jordanian public health system, they may pay up to 10 times the amount that Jordanians pay for treatment.
In 2007, the Jordanian government granted access to public schools for all Iraqi children.
Of the 1.8 million Iraqi refugees mostly living in the Middle East, in 2011 the UNHCR aims to resettle 26,830 Iraqis from Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
The UNHCR’s country profile on Jordan says: “Due to the lack of local integration possibilities in Jordan, resettlement remains the only durable solution for the majority of the Iraqi refugees. Large-scale returns are not anticipated due to the security situation in Iraq.”
The UNHCR says over 52 per cent of refugees in the Middle East and South West Asia are living in protracted situations, which means they’ve been there for more than five years.