How We Manage the Syrian Refugee File!

By: Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Sun 15 May / May 2016. 10:02 PM
  • Fahed Khitan

Our problem with the influx of Syrian refugees began at least 3 years before the European Union stepped in. In fact, before that, we have come to quite an expertise with managing refuge, and hosting consecutive waves of refuge over past decades. Still, we were unable to invest our experiences proficiently enough to handle this current challenge effectively, and contain its percussions.

Two days ago, German magazine, Der Spiegel, uncovered there being 93 billion euros allocated for refuge related expenditures until 2020.

The estimation process was not haphazardly; as European authorities expect 600 thousand refugees to arrive this year, 400 thousand the next, and 300 thousand in 2018. They have gone even beyond that to estimate that 55 per cent of registered refugees will have jobs after 5 years!

We are not Germany, and we won’t be; we don’t have the billions to spend on our own Country before thinking about spending them on refugees. And because we rely on aid from the international community to help endure the weight of refuge here; we should be wiser and more accurate when approaching this particular file, than would say Germany.

Now five years have passed since the crisis of Syrian refuge began, and we still do not know how many refugees have entered Jordan, nor how many have been staying here before. We add and subtract, and in every occasion, we come out with a different number. Our estimates hover about 1.4 million, while the international community does not admit to half that number!

We do not know how many refugees will follow; this month, or this year.

How many refugees have entered the labour market? We do not know; we have only estimates, doubted by some officials in off record conversations. This failure would cost us so much of the aid recommended to Jordan in the London Donors Conference. We have no accurate estimates, to say the least, for the number of Syrian students in private schools, or the number of Syrian children labouring —illegally of course— in Jordan.

While it is true that we are operating under immense pressure; with the conflict just metres away from our borders, and the fact that the refuge equation does not conform to a fixed set of givens, still, in comparison, EU states have run against even worse situations. Their borders crashed before the influx of refugees, while our army still retains control over the borderlines and all the crossings.

Since the very start of the refuge issue, our border patrols have been counting crossovers accurately, providing precise records to respective authorities. But, typical as it is, this data gets stacked in drawers, and is disseminated over the variety of ministries and institutes, that the information is lost amid the crowdedness of authorities and parties involved, to a point that we do not know, anymore, who entered and who left.

Proactively as well, Jordan developed a response plan, backed by donor countries, yet, we were unable to uphold these plans with accurate figures and logical estimates.

We are not even sure about whether or not the recent demographic census has provided a precise figure on refugees in Jordan of different nationalities; some say that the census could not reach most of the Syrian refugees in Jordan; that the numbers provided do not reflect the actual situation.

The more dangerous peril, is the inability to project the number of refugees over the next stage, or perhaps, the inability to go public with it, out of fear of Jordanian public reaction.

With the Syrian file, generally, there is a darkness down the path we are going, to a place we do not know.