Mohammad Aburumman

Resettlement, and the Game of Anticipation

تم نشره في Tue 16 February / Feb 2016. 01:00 AM

Suddenly, talk has shifted from the London Syrian refugee support conference and its outcomes in regards to supporting Jordan in the its difficult task, to prioritising the obsession, or "phobia", of the so-called "resettlement of Syrian refugees" in Jordan.

This particular concern —resettlement, is usually widely entertained by people on the basis that resettling refugees incurs a risk on the Country’s national identity and pulls more strain on the already limited resources, among other reasons.

More recently, there has been a shift in the Kingdom’s general tone in this discourse; from short term tactics entailing emergent aid assistance, to long-term strategies on developmental, service, and infrastructural levels.

Factors that affected this shift in position are absolutely valid and impeccable. They also have nothing to resemble or to do with a cosmic plot to resettle Syrian refugees in Jordan. This change in tone is based on accurate comparative revaluation of the situation based on international studies conducted by the World Bank and other known institutes specialised in this particular field. These studies suggest that the average duration of refuge is about 17 years, while approximately half of the refugees do not necessarily return to their home countries.

Studies of the sort helped Jordan reposition in regards to the effects of Syrian refugees on national economy, and push the international community to take such points into consideration. The high costs of infrastructural, water, educational and service expenses that come with the hosting of Syrian refugees, and most importantly; the market’s limited employment capacity and the State's inability to provide jobs given the weakened potential for investment all carry effect on the matter.

Of course Jordan wishes for our Syrian brothers to return to their homes sooner than later; there are attempts previously mentioned to construct safe zones for refugees within the municipal territories of Daraa.  These attempts, however, failed when the tables turned south of Syria and Russia intervened; particularly since the assassination of Zahran Alloush, which brought all plans to a halt.

Notably, the percentage of Syrian refugees in camps is low —no more than 12 per cent, while most of them are dispersed around different areas of the Kingdom; renting flats, working in the private sector, and benefiting from the various services of the public sector, especially education. This means that the cost of hosting the increasing number of Syrian refugees is already being paid, beforehand. Changing the Kingdom’s tone regarding the issue did in fact help secure some long due support.

Back to the resettlement scarecrow and alternative homeland schemes haunting so many people; the problem with this rhetoric is that it amplifies such schemes, so that when these concerns become valid and concrete, their weight to public opinion becomes diluted, and the whole thing is ridiculed.

Is it really conceivable to any sane, literate person, that Jordan would resettle Syrian refugees, as Jordanian citizens?! We are talking about 650 thousand refugees, of whom most are registered with international NGOs and are currently pursuing better lives in Europe or Gulf countries.

Are the decision makers seriously considering giving Syrian refugees Jordanian citizen status and political civil rights, such as voting, among other rights?

I mean, we have yet to grant children of Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians simple partial “utility rights”, we still tighten things up for western foreigners as well as Jordanians carrying green-card residencies and those whom have been in the Country for over half a century! And through it all, the governments refused to grant any of them citizenship. Why then,  would the government resettle our Syrian brothers today and grant them Jordanian nationalities?


Why the anticipation then? Why provoke public opinion? Why keep the public hanging over something that is irrational and unrealistic?