Iraq to give US$8 million to Jordan for hosting refugees

The Iraqi government will give Jordan US$8 million to help host the estimated 500,000 Iraqi refugees now living in the country.

The Iraqi ambassador to Jordan, Saad Hayani, said the money was to support education and health institutions which have come under financial pressure owing to the influx of Iraqi refugees since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The money will be presented on 28 November during an official meeting between Jordanian Finance Minister Hamad al-Kassasbe and his Iraqi counterpart, Bayan Jabr Solagh.

Most Iraqis in Jordan live in the main cities of Amman, Zarqa and Irbid.

Jordan has recently allowed nearly 50,000 Iraqi residents to be enrolled in schools without the need to obtain permanent residency.

Hayani said more financial aid would be given to Jordan in the near future, but he pointed out that the priority was to restore security and stability in Iraq to allow the estimated 4.2 million Iraqi refugees living outside Iraq - mainly in Syria and Jordan - to return home.

In an interview with Al Jazeera TV on 21 November, Muhammad Dahham al-Hamad, head of the Iraqi Refugees Organization, said that 2,000 Iraqis were returning to their country every day because of Syria and Jordan’s new stricter visa regimes, increasingly difficult living conditions in those countries, and an improved security situation in Iraq.

Jordan recently called on international donors for help, saying the cost of hosting the refugees since 2003 has been about $1 billion.

Iraq recently gave Syria $15 million to help it, too, bear the costs of hosting Iraqi refugees.

On 19 November, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) pledged US$11 million to help Jordan provide improved medical services for Iraqis. This is part of the UNHCR’s commitment to assist Iraq’s neighbouring countries, especially Jordan and Syria, with the focus on five areas of assistance - education, health, food, social and legal counselling, and shelter.

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