Saturday, November 17, 2007

Study of Iraqis in Jordan

The Norwegian FAFO Institute for Applied International Studies has finally published its study of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, concluding that an estimated 450,000 to 500,000 Iraqis currently live in Jordan--about a third less than the widely-accepted 750,000 figure, circulated by the UN, the Jordanian government, and the media.

The estimate was based on Jordanian immigration statistics, the number of Iraqi cell phone subscribers, and FAFO's household survey of Iraqis conducted in May 2007. FAFO, which undertook the study at the request of the Jordanian government, has not disclosed the number of Iraqis polled in the survey nor did it give a margin of error in the study.

Key findings:

-The survey showed that 68% of the Iraqis polled were Sunni Muslim, 17% were Shia Muslims, and 12% were Christians. Ethnically, 86.5% were Arab, 2.6% Kurd, 4.9% Kildani (Chaldean Catholic), 3.3% Ashurian (Assyrian Church of the East), 1.1% Turkomen, 0.9% Assyriani (Syriac Catholic and Orthodox), 0.6% Armenian (Orthodox and Catholic), and 0.1% other (Yezidi and Mandaean).

-Migration of Iraqis to Jordan is predominately a migration of families, 77% of which arrived after 2003, with the highest volume of population movement taking place in 2004 and 2005, according to Jordanian border authorities (this obviously does not take into count the Iraqis who were denied entry and turned back at the border or airport during 2006 and 2007--it would be interesting to see figures for that).

-The majority of the Iraqi community in Jordan is from Baghdad (76% from Baghdad, 7% from Basrah, 3% from Anbar, and 2% from Ninewa) and currently residing in the capital Amman. The community is almost exclusively urban.

-Iraqis in Jordan are well educated (over half have higher education degrees) and 22% of Iraqi adults in Jordan work. Close to 70% of the Iraqi population in Jordan is in working age (15+); of these, about 30% are participating in the work force (Only 15% of Iraqi women, who head one out of every five Iraqi households in Jordan, particularly poorer households, are working).

-The majority of Iraqis live on savings or receive money transfers from Iraq or abroad (42% receive transfers from Iraq). The poorest households are more dependent on income from employment, whereas the more wealthy households have a higher dependency on income from self employment and on transfers from Iraq. The middle wealth groups are the ones that have the least income from employment and are hence the most dependent on money transfers from outside Jordan.

-One in every five Iraqis has concrete plans to emigrate to a third country. A wish to go to a third country is found in all parts of the population, but it is particularly true for the poorer part and non-Muslim communities.

-More than 95% of those that wish to return to Iraq say that they will not
return to Iraq before the security situation allows for it. Plans to go back to Iraq are particularly seen among the Iraqi population with high levels of resources,
economically and with concern to high education, among the Muslim population and among the ones that came in 2006 and 2007 (late arrivals).

-Two of three Iraqi households have children under the age of 18 years as members (78% of Iraqi children between the ages of 7 and 17 are enrolled in school, with less than 60% for the poorer population). The average size of an Iraqi household in Jordan is 4.1 persons.

-The majority of the Iraqi population is 25 years of age and above (56%), 26% of the population is below 15 years of age and the remaining 18 percent are between 15 and 25 years of age.

-Respondents indicate two main reasons for remaining in Jordan; about half of the Iraqi population gives the difficult security situation as their main reason, particularly among men and non-Muslim communities. The second most important reason is family reunion; 38% of all Iraqis give this as their main reason for remaining in the country. The rest say they came for work.

-About 56% of Iraqis say they have a valid permit to stay legally in Jordan (80% of the wealthy population has permits, but only 22% of the poorest part).

There is more information on FAFO's website, including sample questionnaires and notes on their survey methodology.