Human Rights Watch visited Jordan from April 14 to May 6, 2006, to research this report. Human Rights Watch spent four days in the border area, visiting a temporary camp of Palestinian refugees stranded on the Iraqi side of the border; a camp of Iranian Kurds in the no mans land between the checkpoints that mark the entry and exit lines of the two countries; and al-Ruwaishid camp inside Jordan, but in the border region, where UNHCR-recognized Palestinian and Iranian Kurdish refugees have lived since the war. Another team of Human Rights Watch researchers simultaneously assessed conditions in northern Iraq, including the Kawa camp in Qoshtapa, and contributed to the section of this report relating to Iranian Kurds.
Human Rights Watch conducted 85 in-depth interviews with refugees, asylum seekers, and others in refugee-like circumstances who expressed some level of fear of return to Iraq. These included 43 Iraqi nationals, 27 Palestinian habitual residents of Iraq, 14 Iranian Kurds, and one Lebanese national. Interviews were conducted in Amman (36), Karak (six), the no mans land (nine), the Ruwaishid camp (17) some 85 kilometers inside Jordan, and the camp for Palestinians across the Iraqi border (16).
Of the 43 Iraqi nationals interviewed, 15 were female and 28 were male. The ethnic/religious breakdown of the Iraqi nationals was: 15 various Christian denominations, nine Shi`a, five Sunni, four unspecified Muslim, and one Mandaean. A further nine were not asked there religious affiliation as it had no bearing on their reasons for fleeing Iraq or their situation in Jordan. Iraqi Shi`a and Sunnis are often reticent about identifying themselves in sectarian terms. Twenty-two of the 40 Iraqi nationals were from Baghdad, as were 23 of 27 Palestinians. The plurality of Iraqi nationals interviewed, 14, arrived in Jordan before 2003. Eleven arrived in 2003 or 2004, 10 in 2005, and three in the first four months of 2006.
Human Rights Watch also conducted six phone interviews with Iraqis inside Iraq as part of this study. Another eight Iraqi refugees in Jordan responded to a questionnaire concerning their arrests and administrative detention.
While these statistics may not be representative of the make up of the Iraqi population in Jordan, they do show that a wide spectrum of Iraqi society is fleeing to Jordan and that Christians constitute a higher proportion in exile than inside Iraq.
Human Rights Watch also interviewed Iraqi nationals in Jordan who are neither seeking asylum nor in need of protection, including taxi drivers, traders, and others who cross frequently between the two countries. In addition, Human Rights Watch interviewed local and international nongovernmental organizations, intergovernmental agencies, and diplomats.
Because of their precarious legal status in Jordan and potential for persecution if returned to Iraq, the names of Iraqi nationals, Palestinians, and Iranian Kurds interviewed in Jordan are not used in this report.