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2015 Middle East Report

Jordan

BACKGROUND As ISIS continues to spread terror, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan remains a safe haven for hundreds of thousands of refugees, including Iraqi and Syrian Christians. Iraqis have been fleeing to Jordan since 1991, while the protracted war in Syria, in its fourth year, drives more Syrians to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 683,018 registered refugees of all nationalities living in Jordan, of which 628,634 are Syrians. A minority lives in camps: 81,983 Syrians in Zaatari, 19,418 in Azraq and 5,994 in EmiratiJordanian sponsored camps. The situation in the camps is dreadful, even as international organizations are providing them with basic necessities — such as food, water, health care, schools, playgrounds and mosques. Christian refugees, a minority often facing persecution, cannot live in such environment for fear of mounting discrimination, violence and reprisals. Therefore, Christian refugees either stay at hosting centers under the umbrella of the churches or rent apartments in poor areas. Some 29,300 Iraqi refugees registered by UNHCR are scattered throughout Jordan; the remaining registered

refugees and asylum seekers are Somalis, Sudanese, Yemenis and others. The government asserts that most refugees in Jordan do not register with UNHCR and, at the end of last March, estimated that 400,000 Iraqis and 1.3 million Syrians found refuge within its borders. Whatever the number may be, Jordan — with a population of 6.3 million and with very limited resources — is not capable of meeting the needs of all refugees seeking asylum within its borders. One researcher has commented that tensions between moderate and radical Islamic elements in Jordanian society are on the increase, influenced by the socalled Arab Spring and the war in Syria and Iraq. Tribal antagonism is clearly mixed with a surging Islamism. Even though Jordanian society is diverse, the economic, political and religious pressures brought about by the refugee crisis is a destabilizing factor. A recent study prepared by the Rev. Hanna Kildani of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem put the number of Christian Jordanians at 230,003 — 3.68 percent of the total population, of which 52.52 percent is Greek Orthodox, 28.93 percent Latin, 12.83 percent Melkite Greek Catholic, with other denominations at 7.72 percent. There are no accurate statistics regarding the

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CNEWA Jordan Report 2015  

Catholic Near East Welfare Association

CNEWA Jordan Report 2015  

Catholic Near East Welfare Association

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