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UN refugee agency says 1,900 Iraqis sought asylum in Jordan over the last two months

March 15, 2014 at 2:18 pm

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that during the months of December and January a total of 1,900 Iraqi asylum seekers registered with its offices in Amman as refugees in Jordan, signalling a considerable increase from the monthly average of Iraqi asylum seekers in the kingdom during 2013, when the rate was 380 cases per month.

A source in the organisation told Jordan’s Al-Ghad newspaper that in January, 577 Iraqis who entered the kingdom by air and land ports registered themselves as asylum seekers with the UNHCR in Amman; however, the number of Iraqis who sought the organisation’s assistance in December reached 1,300.

According to the source, the majority of Iraqi asylum-seekers in Jordan are from Baghdad and not Al-Anbar province in western Iraq, which has been witnessing massive military operations and violence after the Al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized control over the area.

The source pointed out that according to the commission’s information, the Jordanian-Iraqi borders are open from both sides and the Jordanian authorities have not prevented any Iraqis from entering into the kingdom. Recent media reports claimed that the Jordanian authorities were preventing hundreds of Iraqis fleeing the violence in Al-Anbar province from entering into Jordanian territories.

Iraq’s ambassador to Jordan Jawad Hadi Abbas had earlier told Al-Ghad that there were nearly 190-200,000 Iraqi refugees living in Jordan in 2013. This number is significantly lower than the nearly one million Iraqis who had been displaced to the kingdom after the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Norway’s Fafo organisation published a report in 2008 suggesting that there were between 450-500,000 Iraqi refugees living the kingdom at that time.