Iraq + 1 more

Iraqi expatriates costing Jordan one bln USD annually

AMMAN, May 7, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Iraqis in Jordan are costing the country one billion U.S. dollars a year, according to preliminary estimates released by the Interior Ministry on Monday.

"The initial investigation estimates that the overall cost of hosting Iraqi nationals on our national budget is no less than one billion," Interior Ministry Secretary General Mkhaimar Abu Jamous was quoted by the Jordan Times as saying.

Final figures cannot be released until a survey on Iraqis in Jordan is carried out which will define the exact number of Iraqis in the Kingdom and identifies their living conditions, financial status and needs, he added.

Abu Jamous said that Jordan deals with Iraqis based on " historic friendly relationship" and the Kingdom's political will and leadership to provide assistance and humanitarian services to neighboring countries despite its limited resources, in addition to the burden placed on Jordanians having to deal with consecutive waves of refugees.

Despite the country's meager resources, Iraqi guests have access to the public heath system and education institutions for a token fee, he said.

The UN estimates that there are over two million Iraqi refugees that have crossed the border since the Iraqi war ignited 2003, and at least 750,000 of those settled in Jordan.