Three million Iraqis have been displaced since the war began. Many have fled to Jordan.
SBS Learn
15 Jun 2015 - 3:22 PM  UPDATED 3 May 2016 - 10:31 AM

Watching this clip we learn that 3 million Iraqis have been displaced since the war began. Many have fled to Jordan. The Jordanian government estimates that almost 500,000 Iraqis are currently living in Jordan. More than 100,000 have settled in the city of Amman - the capital and largest city in Jordan.

Whilst the Jordanian government welcomes displaced Iraqis, it does not grant them visas to work. Therefore Iraqis arriving in Jordan can only live on their savings and then suffer when this money runs out. As seen in the clip, the Iraqi refugees in the Jordanian city of Amman live in urban abject poverty. With no money to maintain or improve their living conditions, for many displaced Iraqis in Amman a life of urban squalor is common. 

In many cases, such as in the documentary, Iraqi families that have fled persecution and high danger are now separated from each other. The effect of this is that the needy and vulnerable members of the family have little or no family help and support. This is particularly difficult for the elderly and sick family members.

Unable to return home to Iraq because of sporadic violence, targeted attacks and a breakdown in basic services, Iraqis in Amman lead a wretched life in deplorable conditions. Organisations such as the UNHCR actively provide humanitarian support where possible. However, despite their relative newfound safety, the Iraqis in Amman are a displaced population with no civil status – unable to go home, unable to move forward, unable to work, unable to effectively communicate with their families and unable to access adequate health care.

Adam, an Australian visitor to Amman, says of the displaced population of Iraqis: “They are in no-man’s land.” 




Task 1: No-man’s land

Most refugees fleeing to Jordan travel overland. Locate or draw a map of Iraq. Name its neighbouring countries. On the map, draw and arrow to mark the route from Baghdad to Amman. 

Whilst Amman is Jordan’s largest city, a sudden influx of 100,000 people can put pressure on the cities resources and infrastructure. The UNHCR recognises this impact on Jordan and provides some assistance.

In view of the considerable burden placed on Jordan’s national resources as a host country to a large number of Iraqis, UNHCR actively works toward supporting the government’s efforts to assist Iraqis in need, in particular in the health, education and social development sectors (UNHCR 2011).

a. Make a list of 10 types of infrastructure and services that are part of normal life in a city. Highlight those which could come under pressure by a sudden influx of immigration.

 Pressure on resources, services and infrastructure can exacerbate social tension and unrest. Having no civil status and being unable to access the Jordanian legal system, illegal Iraqis in Amman are vulnerable when tensions arise over services and infrastructure. Suggest five situations where the native population of Amman might come to resent the presence of illegal Iraqi refugees.


Task 2: Displaced and Homeless

The UNHCR makes a distinction between refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Refugees, according to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees include: any person who is outside their country, and who cannot return home due to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion….

Internally Displaced Persons, although they may be experiencing the same persecution as refugees, have not crossed and international border. The UNHCR estimated in 2009 that more than 27 million people around the world classified as Internally Displaced Persons. After their visit to Amman, Gleny, Adam and Darren have come to understand the plight of displaced persons. Watch the clip a few times. Each of the participants has their own perceptions and point of view about the displaced people from Iraq.

a. Describe the varying understandings, opinions and emotions that Gleny, Adam and Darren portray in the clip.

b. Name three Australian or International NGOs whose mission is to assist refugees and/or Internally Displaced Persons. Write 100-words on each including:

When and where the organisation was founded
The mission and objectives of the organisation
How it functions and operates


Task 3: Breakdown of Life Security

Returning home can often be a dangerous and challenging option for Iraqis. The country continues to experience sporadic indiscriminant violence that is having lasting effects on the civilian population - as seen in the documentary.

Aside from the continued persecution and lack of security, people who return home to Iraq can face dire conditions such as a break down in social services, a lack of opportunity for employment and demise in sanitation, healthcare and schooling. 

A sense of hopelessness is common amongst those who return home. Humanitarian intervention is helping restore services and improve conditions. Yet difficulty and stress in a major factor in survival.

After watching the documentary, watch the clip. Imagine you are an illegal Iraqi refugee living in Amman. You have been urged to return home by an aunt who has been unable to leave Iraq because of a physical disability. Write a 200 word letter to your aunt to explain why you cannot return home to help her despite the difficulties you are facing making ends meet in Amman. 


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Reference: The Ipsos Mackay Report

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