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Iraqi asylum seekers in Jordan: A report of the ICMC-USCCB mission to assess the protection needs of Iraqi asylum seekers in Jordan

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Executive Summary

This protection assessment mission to Jordan is a joint effort of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB-MRS). The mission was funded by United States Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM). The main objectives of the mission were to provide an in-depth evaluation and analysis of the protection needs of vulnerable Iraqi individuals and families residing in Jordan and to make recommendations of the best approaches to address their protection needs.

The ICMC/ USCCB mission found a variety of protection needs among the 450,000 or so Iraqi asylum seekers in Jordan. First among these is the lack of clarity on the status of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, which deprives Iraqis of the opportunity to find legal work or benefit from international protection as a refugee. Fifty percent of men and 86% of women of working age are unemployed. Those who find work on the black market are subject to low wages and exploitation. The lack of an adequate income presents serious limitations for Iraqis in finding affordable housing, health care and education. Comparatively higher incidences of chronic diseases have been found among and there are few funds available to pay for expensive medications and medical procedures. One-fifth of Iraqis are torture survivors and even more have experienced a personal traumatic event. These psychological wounds are not easily healed without the appropriate and highly developed mental health system and without the support of traditional mental health support mechanisms. The build-up of personal stress factors increases psychological distress manifested in the form of anger and frustration, which is then vented within the family, causing increasing occurrences of violence and domestic abuse. Women and children bear the brunt of the repercussions of an untreated husband and father who has lost his provider role and his hope. The urban environment of Amman, in which 75% of Iraqis live, scatters and isolates the community and makes identification, assessment and service delivery difficult, at best.

Although impressed with the quality and scope of services already operating in Jordan, the protection assessment mission found four primary areas in need of development.

1. Unaccompanied and separated children in Jordan need specially designed programs and well- trained staff to identify them, assess their needs and provide them with protection and care. Best interest determinations are needed to identify durable solutions for these children.

2. Comprehensive case management is needed to insure seamless service delivery for the complex and multiple problems that face fragile Iraqi families. Mobile, community center or clinic-based case managers are needed to assist families in accessing all of the needed services and information.

3. Community formation has not occurred for a variety of reasons, yet this is essential to a healthy and fully functioning individual, family and neighborhood. Valueadded community centers with case management, mobile outreach teams and media centers can help restore community bonds.

4. Psychosocial capacity building and staff support is needed as there are not enough specialized mental health services. Intensive psychosocial training programs must be delivered to increase the skill levels of the present psychosocial workers and prevent premature burnout and staff turnover.