Jordan Is an Example for the Rest of the World
The Country Has a Long Record of Refugee Reception with Almost a Third of its Population Being Non-Jordanian.June 20th, 2016
A national census conducted early this year estimates that, out of a population of 9.5 million, 2.9 million non-Jordanians reside in the country, making this nation and especially its capital Amman an authentic cultural melting-pot.
Jordan is a small Middle-Eastern country and it has always been a traditional safe Heaven for people fleeing from chaos and wars. The complicated geographical location between countries like Iraq, Syria and Israel have made Jordan a historical witness of all the great civil and international conflicts that plagued and continue to plague the stability of the Middle-East. At present, more than 4 million people have fled from the Syrian conflict, and almost 620.000 have chosen to seek refuge in Jordan.
Even if Jordan does not take part in United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, national laws accept the term “refugee” and recognize the non-refoulement principle as well as the refugees’ right to stay in the country. Right now, every person that crosses the Syrian border is automatically considered a war refugee. Opposed to other countries, most of Jordan’s asylum-solicitants live outside of this camps, although there are five refugee-camps in Jordanian territory.
In the Jordanian capital of Amman, where nearly half of the non-Jordanian population live in, such a generous reception policy has made the city a true capital of cultural melting-pot, as citizens from different Arab countries live together and learn not only to accept their differences, but most importantly to discover their similarities.
As reported by the New York Times, refugees are “changing the cultural fabric of Amman”, making the capital “an unlikely, unsung city of refuge for people ejected from their homes”, a unique city in the Arab world, where its mixture of cultures is a key example of Pan-Arabism in modern times.
There is no better way to see this change than paying attention to the every-day life elements: for example, Syrian sweets are now one of the most sold products in the city, while henna, a Sudanese bodypainting tradition, is now integrated in the Jordanian fashion.
However, there are also logical integration problems. Some Jordanians complain that the massive affluence of refugees is lowering wages and raising rents, whilst others point out the obvious security concerns that such a displacement of population can pose.
The situation of the refugees is also far from ideal, even if it is qualitatively better than in the countries from which they were forced to escape. Large segments of the refugee population are prohibited to work, while poverty and hunger situations are frequent.
These clear problems, which always go hand in hand with accepting such a large number of refugees, do not tarnish the incredible act of generosity of the Jordanian people. It is important to note that half of Jordanians are estimated to have Palestinian roots, meaning that the two ethnic groups, initially separated like the Syrians and the locals, interbred. The Palestinians were at the beginning in the same situation Syrians are now.