JORDAN

There are approximately between 10,000 and 15,000 Assyrians refugees primarily from Iraq currently living in Amman, Jordan and surrounding suburbs. The majority of these refugees fled following the IS takeover of the Nineveh Plain (2014) and are residing in the following districts of Amman: Marka, Jabal Amman, Al-Abdali (specifically in Jabal al-Hussein and Jabal al-Weibdeh), North Hashmi, and a Christian-majority town northwest of Amman called Fuheis.

Repatriation of Assyrian refugees who wish to return home.

The majority of Assyrian refugees residing in Jordan originated from the Nineveh Plain and left during IS occupation (2014-2017) of their hometowns. A sizeable and increasing number of these refugees are Assyrians native to towns under KRG rule in Iraq who left in the months leading up to the Kurdish referendum (Sept. 2017) or in its aftermath due to the crushing socio-economic factors and ongoing human rights violations. A small percentage of the Assyrian refugee community in Jordan are former residents of Baghdad who left due to religious persecution and ongoing violence targeting Assyrians. They are now living in protracted situations and exist in a state of limbo. While their lives may not be at risk, their basic rights and essential economic, social, and psychological needs often remain unfulfilled. 

Many Assyrian refugee families in Jordan long to return home to Iraq. Common priorities for repatriation include: security, livelihoods, reconstruction of homes and infrastructure, restitution for loss of property, educational opportunities, family reunification, and the creation of a self-governed Nineveh Plain Province for Assyrians, Yazidis, and other minoritized groups in Iraq. 

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: Support measures to stabilize the security situation in the Nineveh Plain, begin the restoration of devastated areas, and implement other measures to restore public faith in the Iraqi Government to provide incentive for Assyrian refugees who wish to return home. Urge the Iraqi Government to fund the repatriation of Iraqi Assyrian citizens currently living in Jordan. 

Increased humanitarian aid to Assyrian refugee families. 

Assyrian refugees in Jordan are largely neglected by the UNCHR and receive little assistance. They are unable to live in refugee camps due to fears of persecution on the basis of their Christian faith, and are instead renting properties in poor, overcrowded neighborhoods in Amman and the surrounding suburbs. Living conditions vary for families depending on their financial situation. Some families are renting furnished apartments, while others are renting space without the means to purchase furniture. In many cases, multiple families are sharing a single unit. These refugees rely on their savings and family abroad for support, as well as aid from various NGOs.

The economic crisis in Jordan has impacted its entire population, but creates unique hardships for refugees who cannot legally be employed and earn an income. Depending on a number of factors, including household size, medical conditions, and neighborhood, Assyrian families are paying on average between 750 JOD to 1500 JOD monthly to survive (the equivalent of 1057 USD to 2115 USD).

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: Increase aid efforts to refugee communities in Jordan and take steps to ensure aid is distributed evenly. 

Access to work permits for refugees. 

Assyrian refugees in Jordan cannot be legally employed, as they are unable to access the required work permit due to the restrictive administrative process and the prohibitvely expensive costs associated with it. According to Article 12 of the Jordanian Labor Law, any non-Jordanian workers cannot be employed except by the approval of the Ministry of the Interior, provided that the work shall entail an experience and qualification not available among Jordanian workers or that the number of qualified Jordanians does not meet the need, in which case Arab workers are given priority. Those who violate the law may be subject to deportation. 

The denial of the right to work has had a negative impact on Assyrian refugees, undermining dignity and exacerbating a sense of alienation and hopelessness. 

Despite the risks, some Assyrian refugees have sought employment opportunities out of desperation and work menial jobs. These undocumented workers are often mistreated and exploited for their willingness to work long hours with low pay. 

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: Support measures to increase access to work permits, enabling refugees to provide for their families and contribute to Jordanian society. Encourage the Jordanian Government to end disproportionate penalties for those caught working without permits.

Access to education for refugee children. 

Access to education for refugee communities in Jordan is limited. Many Assyrian children are enrolled in parochial schools administered by the Catholic Church. These schools typically end the school day at noon, but remain open for Christian refugee children three days a week in the afternoon after Jordanian children are dismissed. The Catholic NGO Caritas Jordan helps pay teacher salaries for the afternoon session. Christian families are able to register their children free of charge, and families are only responsible for transportation fees. Only children under the age of 14 are admitted. Most of these schools are at capacity, leaving many children without access to education. Some Assyrian children have been out of school for four years, which research shows will permanently hinder their education. 

Teens and college-aged adults continue to lack access to any form of education. 

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: Support measures to remove obstacles to education to enable refugee children to recover from conflict, realize their rights, contribute to host countries, and ultimately rebuild their home countries. Ensure that lack of documentation is not a barrier to education.

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© 2018 Assyrian Policy Institute