A third of Jordan’s population are immigrants, report finds

(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Latest international migration data released by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) indicated that approximately 33.9 percent of Jordan’s population are immigrants, the majority of whom are from Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, among other states. Information released by the World Food Program’s in December 2021, 7 percent of Jordan’s total population are Syrian refugees, all of whom have fled Syria due to the dire political and economic situation. اضافة اعلان

DESA’s recently released analysis reveals that there were 3.5 million immigrants present in Jordan during 2020; a noticeable increase from 2010’s figures, which stood at 2.8 million. In 2000, the number of immigrants was 1.9 million, while in 2005, the number was 2.2 million, indicating that the aggregate number of immigrants coming to the Kingdom since the turn of the century has been steadily increasing.

Jordanian economist Mufleh Aqel agreed that a big percentage of the population are immigrants, “roughly meaning that for every two Jordanians, there is one foreigner in the Kingdom,” adding that this can pose a challenge for Jordan, especially because of its limited resources, particularly its water scarcity issues.

Aqel emphasized that it is crucial to distinguish between those who immigrate for political reasons, and those who immigrate for economic reasons.  Syrian workers, as an example have been working in the Jordanian food and restaurant sector at an increasing rate, almost saturating the industry, Aqel said.

“Some economic immigrants can be beneficial to Jordan, like those immigrants that have invested large sums of money in the Jordanian economy. Low-income immigrants however, can be economically burdensome for Jordan and its limited resources,” Aqel added.

In reference to foreign workers with work permits in Jordan, Aqel estimated that there are nearly 200,000 workers who are legally authorized to work in Jordan through work permits, while there are in total approximately 800,000 foreign workers. “One of the main reasons why some of these workers end up not choosing to obtain work permits, is because the process is rather expensive. These permits can cost anywhere between JD700 to JD JD800, which is why some of them are deterred from this process.”

On the impact of the Syria refugee crisis on Jordan, economic expert Mazen Irshaid told Jordan News, that the continued influx of Syrian refugees into the Kingdom is bound to increase pressures on the infrastructure, namely on the water sector, which has suffered scarcity even before the Syria crisis.” 

Irshaid added that the annual cost of supporting the refugee populations in Jordan could reach JD1 billion, noting that “Jordan often receives only a fraction of the financial assistance it requests from donor countries, making matters even more difficult.” 

He also noted that the increase in the number of immigrants in Jordan has created a challenge for Jordanian nationals in the work market. Jordan’s current unemployment rate is the highest in its history, reaching approximately 24 percent.  Two years into the pandemic, the figure decreased by a measly 1 percent, from 25 percent.  “A surge in immigration to Jordan could it even more competitive and challenging for Jordanians,” said Irshaid.

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