Forced Migration to Jordan – Historical Developments
Jordan is located in the heart of the Middle East. It has been influenced by regional movements of people, especially in the last six decades. This led to rapid population growth and changes in the composition of the population. It is estimated that Jordan's population was approximately 230.000 people in 1921
In 1948, two years after Jordan's independence, the Kingdom was affected by an influx of 506.200 Palestinian refugees
Since March 2011 unprecedented numbers of forced migrants from Syria have arrived in Jordan because of the Syrian Civil War or the so called Syrian Crisis.
Jordan's Migrant Population
Results of the General Census of Population and Housing in Jordan of 30 November 2015 indicate that the population growth rate in Jordan during the period (2004-2015) was 5.3 percent, 18 percent for non-Jordanians versus 3.1 percent for Jordanians. This development is clearly linked to the increased influx of migrants, especially forced migrants, into Jordan during that period. The migrant population is composed of 1.265.514 Syrians, including about 629.000 Syrian refugees registered with the
Jordan's Policy towards Palestinian Refugees
Due to the large presence of Palestinians, Jordan's refugee policies have, for a long time, mainly focused on this group of people. Several underlying assumptions guide Jordan's attitude towards Palestinians such as that the majority of Palestinian refugees (about 95 percent) living in the Kingdom hold Jordanian citizenship, that Jordan is the closest to Palestinians historically and geographically, and that Palestinians holding Jordanian citizenship demographically resemble Jordanians without Palestinian background. Today, most Palestinians are well integrated in Jordan. They form a cross-section of Jordanian society with regard to their socio-economic situation. They
Nevertheless, Arab countries continue to believe that the Palestinian refugee issue is only a temporary one, no matter how long it will continue. This also holds true for Jordan. The idea that the Palestine refugee issue is only a temporary one and must be solved in accordance with principles laid down in resolutions and decisions of the United Nations has been manifested in Jordanian policies for more than sixty years and is also displayed in political attitudes and political discourse. Article 8 of the Jordan-Israel peace treaty of 1994 indicates the necessity of finding a just compromise for the refugee issue. Despite the stalemate of Arabic-Israeli peace negotiations in the last twenty years, Jordan still emphasizes on achieving a just solution according to the peace treaty and the UN General Assembly Resolution No. 194 (December 1948) as a basis of Jordan's policy toward the Palestinian refugee issue. According to Resolution No. 194 a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue must include the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and be compensated for losses of and damage to their properties. In order to preserve their right to return and compensation Jordan refuses to permanently settle Palestinian refugees in Jordan. Instead, the Kingdom demands that the international community must take responsibility to support UNRWA which is considered as a candle of hope for the Palestinian refugees to achieve their rights of returning home, and the permanence of UNRWA is also regarded as a symbol for the survival of the Palestinian refugee issue. According to Jordan and other Arab countries a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict in the Middle East must include a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue.
Jordan's policy toward other refugee groups partially overlaps with its policy toward the Palestinian refugee issue. Thus, Jordan rejects the occupation of other territories by force, as the occupation is the basis of forced migration and refugee movements. The Kingdom has also adopted an open-door policy to welcome refugees although Jordan is not signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. However, the country only keeps its borders open if security situations at the border permit to do so. Thus, there are periods of time when Jordan decides to close its borders. It does not do so in order to ban refugees from entering the country, but for security reasons. At the end of 2015, refugees (including Palestinian refugees who have the Jordanian nationality) accounted for about 30 percent of the total population of Jordan which approximately equals the share of foreigners in the country's total population which comprises approximately 9.5 million persons according to the latest General Census in Jordan (November 2015)
Jordan deals with refugees in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding of the Jordanian government and the
Jordan's open-door policy was not limited to the reception of refugees, but included the authorization for refugees to live outside the camps: only 17.4 percent of Palestinian refugees
Dealing with Syrian Refugees
Since the start of the Syrian refugee influx in March 2011 Jordan has upheld the clear attitude of not interfering in the conflict between the Syrian government and opposition groups in Syria. Instead, the Kingdom calls on the international community to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian Crisis and to put an end to the movements of Syrian forced migrants towards the neighboring countries. Jordan has also repeatedly emphasized the need to financially support the main host countries of Syrian refugees in the region. When the first Syrian refugees came to Jordan at the beginning of the crisis, they found a safe haven in Jordanian homes along the border between the two countries. Some Syrian refugee families are still living in the homes of Jordanian families. This is especially common in Al-Ramtha region in the far northwest of Jordan where there are strong historic ties and tribal relations of Jordanians and Syrians originating from Daraa' region in southwestern Syria.
When the refugee influx increased, the Jordanian government and international organizations, especially
Turning the Syrian refugee crisis into a development opportunity that attracts new investments and opens up the EU market for Jordanian products, creating jobs for Jordanians and Syrian refugees whilst supporting the post-conflict Syrian economy;
Rebuilding Jordanian host communities by adequately financing through grants the Jordan Response Plan 2016-2018 (see below), in particular with regard to enhancing the resilience of host communities; and
Mobilizing sufficient grants and concessionary financing to support the macroeconomic framework and address Jordan's financing needs over the next three years, as part of Jordan entering into a new Extended Fund Facility program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Jordan is committed to improve business environment and investment through a series of legislative, legal and structural reforms and incentives attracting local and foreign companies, including access to European markets by demanding the European Union to speed up the implementation of plans to review the origin rules in order to increase the amount of Jordanian goods entering the European Union markets and thus increasing employment opportunities in the Jordanian economy for Jordanians and Syrians refugees.
In this regard, Jordan launched a plan called "Jordan Response to the Syrian Crises Plan – JRP 2016-2018", which is supported by the international community with a pledged sum of 700 million dollars. It included the commitment that the Jordanian government will make the necessary administrative changes to allow Syrian refugees to work, and remove any restrictions preventing refugee economic activities inside the camps and trade with people outside the camps
Finally, Jordan believes that providing education to Syrian refugees is a major way to open up prospects for their future. Therefore, the government takes an effort to ensure that every child in Jordan starting from the next academic year (2016-2017) will have access to education as long as the quality of education for Jordanians is not negatively affected.
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