Friday, November 16, 2007

Solid Figures on Jordan

Earlier this year, Jordan commissioned the Fafo Institute to help determine the population of Iraqi refugees in the Hashemite kingdom. Rumors hit Washington this summer that the numbers they were coming up with were far lower than those Jordan had long quoted. Now the report is finally out and the numbers are indeed lower, but not drastically so.

Fafo and the Jordan Ministry of Statistics say there were "between 450,000-500,000 Iraqi residents in Jordan as of May 2007", whereas Jordan had previously maintained that there were about 750,000 Iraqis.

Whether the number is 450,000 or 750,000, it's staggering. With Jordan's estimated population of just under 6 million, it means that either 1 in 9 people in Jordan is a refugee from Iraq or 1 in 14. Either way, it represents a huge burden on Jordan's infrastructure and economy. Imagine comparable numbers here in the U.S. of between 23 to 38 million refugees!

In short, Jordan needs the help of the international community to meet the needs of so many refugees. Food and water security, job opportunities, and access to health care are severely lacking and must be addressed now. Women, children and the elderly are particularly at risk because in many cases their fathers and brothers were killed in Iraq, forcing their families to flee in the first place. Women and young girls are often forced into survival sex and prostitution to support their families. See a new report from the Women's Commission on the state of health care for Iraqi women in Jordan here.

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