Magazine article Forced Migration Review

A Duty and a Burden on Jordan

Magazine article Forced Migration Review

A Duty and a Burden on Jordan

Article excerpt

More than 40% of Jordan's current population originates from other countries, including two million Palestinians, up to 1.3 million Syrians and 29,000 Iraqis. In order to protect its national identity in these circumstances, and because of the complicated situation in the region generally, the country has not become a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Jordan's law on refugees is defined by a 1998 Memorandum of Understanding with UNHCR, amended in April 2014. It includes the Convention's definition of 'refugee' and accepts the principle of non-refoulement and third country resettlement for refugees. However, it does not allow for local integration as a solution. Article 21 of the Constitution offers refugee status for political asylum but only in very exceptional situations and it is not an option available for most refugees. A domestic refugee law is in the process of being drafted, and is currently under discussion in Jordan, though for political and security reasons it may be postponed until after the Syrian crisis.

Everyone crossing a border from Syria is considered to be a refugee unless they are considered a potential security threat or to have crossed illegally. Along the 378-km Syrian-Jordanian border there are 25 recognised crossing points and a further 23 that are open depending on the situation. At the crossing points there are temporary assembly or collection sites where categorisation and prioritisation takes place. Priority is given first to the injured and sick; then to children, particularly unaccompanied or separated minors; next to the elderly; and lastly to the general adult population. 41% of the incoming refugees are children, 30% are women and 29% are men. There are currently five camps in Jordan and another being planned; however, the vast majority of Syrian asylum seekers and refugees fleeing the conflict are living outside the camps, thus putting the burden on the local and host communities.

Financial burden

Jordan is faced with the challenge of balancing human rights and national security in the economic, political and social fields. The Jordanian Economic and Social Council has stated that the cost to Jordan per Syrian refugee is over US$3,500 per year1 and the direct cost is currently at US$1.2 billion and is expected to rise to $4. …

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