An article featured in AMEInfo lists Amman as the fourth most expensive city in the
Middle East in 2013. What does this mean to me personally? It means my US dollar is worth two-third’s of what it is worth in the United States. Everything is a lot more expensive in Amman as compared to Arizona. In Amman, the dramatic influx of Syrian refugees, some of whom are Palestinian, has put a tremendous drain on the economic conditions in Jordan. The population of Jordan is comprised of 60 to 70% Palestinians now.
Rather than quoting facts and figures and researching everything said to me at this point, I would like to share some of the things I’ve heard from my acquaintances: Jordanian, Jordanian Palestinian, Palestinian and Syrian refugees. These comments inspire some pause and are food for some reflective thought:
From a Palestinian older female acquaintance: “My rent was raised from twenty-six JDs [Jordanian dinars] a month to sixty JDs a month three months ago. All of my family is dead and I am sick and can’t work. I haven’t paid rent for three months.”
Since 1967, Palestinians were not given Jordanian nationality; therefore they remain “country-less” with no national identity.
From a Palestinian acquaintance: “Palestinian refugees get 25JDs a month, Syrian refugees get 75+ JDs a month. The government doesn’t give refugees money, it all comes from the UN and other countries. Palestinians, who don’t have Jordanian nationality, cannot have government jobs, join the military, or attend the university.”
From a Syrian refugee acquaintance: “I have been here two months. All of my family is in Syria. I want to return to my family and friends very soon.”
From a Jordanian acquaintance (after hearing about my art salon for Palestinian women): “What are you doing for Jordan?”
From a Jordanian Palestinian acquaintance: “Everyone marries everyone here. Palestinians marry Jordanians and Jordanians marry Palestinians. There is no difference, we are all the same. The difference is that some people don’t have Jordan nationality, because they came here after 1967, and they can’t travel to other countries or go to the university. When their children are born here they have Jordan nationality and can go to the university and travel.”
From another Jordanian Palestinian acquaintance: “The majority of people live day to day. The money they earn each day is enough to buy the food for the next day. they have no savings. Most people own their homes, their fathers and grandfathers build on top of their house for the next generation, and so forth. They don’t pay rent but they have a loan from the bank. They put up their land or store for equity to get a loan. When they can’t pay the loan their property is taken away. That is the story for most of the people here. Some areas are wealthy. The Iraqi sector is wealthy. Many of the Iraqi’s stole the money and came here to open a big business.”
A common refrain heard here: “Spies are here. They write down what people say and report them. They are kicked out of Jordan and can’t come back.”
Another common refrain: “I like the American people. The American people don’t know what their government is doing. I don’t blame the people for what their government is doing. I separate the people from their government.”
So, here I sit in my 700 JD a month apartment (not including utilities) while just a few miles away millions of people are stuck in poverty and morass. Something is direly wrong with this picture. Some people here get paid thousands of dollars a week for a two-page “report.” I am living in a comparative lap of luxury. The majority of others have been driven out of country after county carrying only what they could strap on their backs.
Sometimes gifts come with strings attached, and sometimes they don’t.
- Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees stranded on Jordanian border (telegraph.co.uk)