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Jordan and Syrian Refugees: Avoiding the Worst Case Scenario

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Civil war in Syria has provoked a major refugee crisis in neighbouring Jordan, raising the latter’s population by 8 per cent. For Jordanians, the highly visible presence of many thousands of refugees living in their midst – mostly in urban areas, rather than camps – raises fears over competition for resources and opportunities. Host communities have partly benefited from the presence of refugees, but many Jordanians feel they are worse off because of the Syrians. The refugee crisis has hit the most vulnerable people in their country hardest. Local inhabitants feel increasingly disenfranchised and neglected by both their government and international donors due to a real and perceived impact on rents, prices, public services and public order. If current trends continue, resentment and alienation in the northern governorates are likely to increase in the coming years. Local discontent may subside if Syrians are given more opportunities to earn a living legally, which would mean that Jordan would benefit more from their presence. In order to minimize a negative political effect, a more open livelihood policy should be accompanied by a significant increase in international development support for host communities. It does not look like refugees will be able to return to Syria any time soon, no matter how hard life in Jordan becomes. Jordan and the international community should take the difficult but necessary steps to prevent the crisis from making life even worse for the country’s most vulnerable residents.

Affiliations: 1: Chatham House, UK,


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