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The city of Amman, where many refugees in Jordan have settled.


Like Syria and Lebanon, Jordan has been a host country for both Iraqi refugees and Palestinians in the past decades. It has also accepted a large number of Syrian refugees since the start of that country’s civil war. However, Jordan has few natural resources, consistently high unemployment rates, and its budget is substantially dependent on foreign aid. These factors have both limited its capacity to absorb refugee populations and led to increasing public protests and calls for reform. Although not signatory to the Refugee Convention, the Jordanian government remains open to working with international actors inside its borders to address humanitarian concerns.

Current Humanitarian Situation

As of October 2014, more than 600,000 Syrian refugees had registered in Jordan after fleeing violence in their home country. This large influx has been a cause of concern within the government. Syrian refugees were initially taken to transit centers on the northern border where they could be bailed out by Jordanian nationals before joining friends or family members in host communities. However, in July 2012, Jordan opened a large refugee camp for up to 150,000 people in response to the overwhelming number of arrivals and the difficulty of providing services to what had been a widely dispersed population. Since then, a second large-scale camp has been established, as well as a smaller one run by the United Arab Emirates.

Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are living in urban settings instead of camps, and they need support from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners as the costs of food and shelter continue to rise. Donors have recognized the importance of supporting Jordanian host communities as well as the refugees, but funds have been slow to arrive.

Iraqi refugees began arriving in Jordan in large numbers in 2003, with about 30,000 currently registered with UNHCR. In recent months, however, Iraqis fleeing the Islamic State group have started streaming into Jordan. As in Lebanon, UNHCR provides lifesaving services to Iraqi refugees, but these Iraqis generally cannot obtain legal status in Jordan, nor can they return to Iraq safely. Their most likely prospect for a long-term solution is resettlement – usually a long and slow process.

Jordan’s Palestinian population is generally thought to include about half of the country’s total population. Many Palestinians hold Jordanian citizenship, and on paper they have the same rights as other Jordanian citizens. Nonetheless, there are reports of discrimination – especially in education and employment opportunities – and several hundred thousand Palestinians have been forced to live in camps by poor socioeconomic conditions. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) assists these camp populations.

Field Reports
  • 02/04/2014
    With the support of donor states and the humanitarian community, the Kurdistan Regional Government and Jordan have done a remarkable job in responding to the immediate challenges of the refugee influx. But the limitations of emergency assistance are becoming clear. A new and longer-term approach is now required – one that gives more attention to the situation of refugees living outside of camps, provides greater support to the communities most directly affected by the refugees’ presence, and entails more extensive engagement by development organizations.
  • 12/05/2012
    The civil war in Syria has forced large numbers of Syrians from their homes, and in many cases from the country entirely. Refugees continue to flee in record numbers, and there are currently almost 400,000 registered or waiting for registration in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey combined. The United Nations has said it expects this number could reach 700,000 by December 31, 2012. About half of all the registered Syrians are living in camps, but the other half remain in local host communities trying to get by on their own.
In Depth Reports
  • 03/22/2007
    Four years after the U.S. launched its attack against Iraq, the civil war there has produced a humanitarian crisis marked by the world’s fastest growing refugee and internally displaced populations. But Iraq, Washington and the U.N. do not acknowledge the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis. This has led to an inadequate response, both within Iraq and in the region.
RI has consistently recommended more support for services that assist Syrian refugees outside of camps. Even as many large aid agencies and non-governmental organizations established programming in camps, RI repeatedly noted the lack of support for those living outside of them and requested that donors and service providers pay more attention to this enormous population. Finally, as part of its 2014 regional response plan for Syria, the UN Refugee Agency announced that it would specifically focus more of its efforts on non-camp refugees in the region.