Jordan's enormous refugee burden

Marcus Roberts
March 7, 2016
Reproduced with Permission
Demography is Destiny

I thought that the refugee situation in Lebanon was bad enough. Towards the beginning of this year I reported the huge population pressures that the Syrian meltdown has placed upon that small Mediterranean country. By last year the UN was reporting that around a quarter of all people living in Lebanon (a nation the two-thirds the size of Connecticut) were refugees.

However, Lebanon is certainly not the only country in the war-torn region to suffer from a swollen population due to refugees. In fact, Jordan actually has more refugees as a proportion of its population than Lebanon . Around a third (2.9 million) of the country's population (9.5 million) is estimated by the Department of Statistics Census to be made up of refugees. Of those 2.5 million refugees nearly half (1.26 million) are from Syria while the rest are made up of Egyptians (636,000), Palestinians (634,000), Iraqis (131,000), Yemenis (31,000) and Libyans (23,000).

Thanks in part to the influx of millions of displaced persons from conflict zones Jordan's population has skyrocketed in the past decade. In 2004 there were 5.1 million people in the Kingdom. In 2015 the population had grown by nearly 87 per cent to 9.5 million people! Yes, that's right, in ten years the country has doubled in size.

The majority of this population growth is due to non-Jordanians. The country's population growth as a whole per year was about 5.3 per cent, but for non-Jordanian's in the country it stood at 18 percent per year (!) and for Jordanians only 3.1 percent per year.

One can only imagine the strain that such exponential population growth has placed upon the country's infrastructure. But even more awe-inspiring is that one-third of all the people living in Jordan are refugees. One-third. Let us hope that the ceasefire deal in Syria holds so that some of these poor people can move back home.