Far from Freedom: Iraqis in Jordan // 36 Photos

"I came here for my safety."

(Nadim from Baghdad, Amman, Jordan, September 2009.)

The number of Iraqi refugees now residing in Jordan is a matter of fierce debate, but conservative estimates say there are at least 160,000 Iraqis in the country. There are no temporary refugee camps in Jordan and most Iraqi refugees live in the poor, crowded suburbs of the capital, Amman. A mix of Sunni, Shia and Christian sects, they all left Iraq because of the horrific violence that raged across the country after the US-led invasion of 2003. Many were directly marked for death by militias and tell stories of death threats arriving in the night, of family members killed and kidnapped, of rape and murder. Now, they live in limbo, terrified of returning to Iraq, unable to gain citizenship in Jordan and waiting for a dysfunctional United Nations resettlement system to tend to them.

Because of this physical and psychological instability, many contemplate or commit to entering 'illegal' people-smuggling networks, to seek sanctuary in safe places like Australia, the United States and Europe.

Between the US-led invasion of 2003 and February 2010, 783 Iraqis arrived in Australia through such smuggling networks. All were granted visas.