Jordan + 4 more

On the Basis of Nationality: Access to Assistance for Iraqi and Other Asylum-Seekers and Refugees in Jordan

Originally published


I. Executive Summary

Syrians constitute the largest and most visible population of persons of concern (POCs) registered with UNHCR in Jordan. However, there are also 65,120 Iraqi POCs in Jordan and 14,850 “Other” POCs, most of whom are from Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia. Like Syrians, Iraqi and Other POCs came to Jordan seeking refuge from conflict, but compared to Syrians, these other, less visible POCs enjoy limited access to assistance.4 While the humanitarian community espouses the principle that assistance should be provided on the basis of need alone, in Jordan access to assistance is often conditioned on nationality.

The main findings of this report are summarized as follows:

• Iraqi and Other asylum-seekers (not refugees), who constitute almost half of all Iraqi and Other POCs, have only limited access to UNHCR assistance. Since Iraqis and Others have little access to assistance outside of UNHCR, Iraqi and Other asylum-seekers constitute a vulnerable community with almost no access to assistance.

• On average, Iraqi POCs are somewhat less vulnerable than Syrian POCs while Other POCs are similar in vulnerability to Syrians. However, Iraqi and Other POCs who experience high levels of vulnerability appear to be more vulnerable than Syrians who experience high levels of vulnerability.

• Unlike Syrians who are able to obtain work permits under the Jordan Compact, Iraqi and Other POCs have no opportunities for legal employment under the Jordan Compact.

• Iraqi and Other POCs have to pay the foreigners’ rate to access Ministry of Health (MOH) services, a rate so high that it is considered unaffordable. Syrians, by comparison, enjoy access to MOH services at highly subsidized rates.

• The most vulnerable Iraqi and Other refugees, namely those that fall below the vulnerability threshold to receive UNHCR cash assistance, receive much less cash/voucher assistance from UN agencies than Syrians who fall below the same vulnerability threshold. This is because in addition to UNHCR cash assistance, Syrians also receive either a 10 or 20 JD voucher from WFP and many Syrians receive a 20 JD per child cash grant from UNICEF. Iraqis and Other POCs are excluded from these programs. UNHCR attempts to compensate for this by providing Iraqi and Other refugees a higher amount of cash assistance than Syrians but in most cases Iraqi and Other refugees still receive less total assistance.

• Iraqi and Other POCs that fall just above the UNHCR vulnerability threshold for monthly cash assistance receive significantly less assistance than Syrians that fall just above the same threshold. Syrians at this level of vulnerability would likely receive a 20 JD voucher from WFP (as opposed to the 10 JD voucher). So a Syrian household of five in this position would likely receive 100 JD in voucher assistance whereas an Iraqi or Other household in this position would receive no comparable assistance.

• UNHCR is the primary provider of assistance to Other POCs but its ability to fill gaps in assistance for Other POCs is severely constrained because most funders earmark contributions for the Syrian Situation Response to the exclusion of the Iraq Situation Response, which also includes Other POCs.
Consequently, during the years 2015 and 2016, UNHCR reached more than 90 percent of its target beneficiary goal for Syrians for cash assistance but only 33 percent of its target beneficiary goal for non-Syrians.

• NGOs have not filled the gap in assistance to Other POCs in significant ways. Many projects are restricted to Syrian (and Jordanian) beneficiaries, and even when projects are not restricted in this way, they tend to include only small numbers of Other POCs as beneficiaries.7 This might be explained by that fact that Other POCs are largely invisible within the humanitarian coordination structure, which focuses on Syrian refugees, and by the fact that there is little quantitative data on the needs of Other POCs. As a consequence, NGOs are largely unaware of the needs of Other POCs. Some NGOs are even unaware that Other POCs are included in the Refugee Assistance Information System (RAIS), and most NGOs are unaware that Vulnerability Assessment Framework (VAF) scores for some Other POCs are available through RAIS.

• Additionally, racism and the perception that African POCs are not “real” refugees may bias the decisions of case workers who are responsible for screening potential beneficiaries.

These findings lead to the conclusion that Iraqi and Other POCs enjoy limited access to assistance compared to Syrian refugees at similar levels of vulnerability, a conclusion that suggests the humanitarian community in Jordan is not fulfilling its obligation to provide aid on the basis of need alone. The following recommendations for the Government of Jordan, UN agencies, donors, and NGOs envision concrete steps to decrease the adverse effect of nationality on access to assistance.


• That the Government of Jordan open opportunities for Iraqi and Other POCs to obtain work permits in the same way that Syrians are able to obtain to work permits through the Jordan Compact.

• That the Government of Jordan provide access for Iraqis and Other POCs to MOH facilities at the uninsured Jordan rate.

• That UN agencies advocate against the earmarking of funds on the basis of nationality.

• That WFP open its food voucher program to Iraqi and Other POCs.

• That UNICEF open its Child Cash Grant program to Iraqi and Other POCs.

• That UNHCR share more information on Other POCs to facilitate the engagement of NGOs with Other POCs.

• That NGOs increase their engagement with Other POCs by working with donors to include targets for Other POCs within ongoing programs and to develop programs specifically targeting Other POCs and their unique needs.