Partners in Creating the Future
International Migrants Day
International Migrants Day
Monday, 18 December 2023

Today, Monday, Jordan and the world commemorate International Migrants Day, which falls on December 18 of each year. International Migrants Day is dedicated to acknowledge the importance of the contributions of migrants, bring the spotlight back to a major issue in particular the challenges migrants encounter, clear the way to draw migrants to their host countries, ensure their legitimate rights to live in peace all over the world, and to work in accordance with international conventions, treaties and recommendations.                         The world commemorates this day in light of the current international circumstances, which are witnessing the migration of thousands from their homes and countries, whether to earn a living or as a result of armed conflicts, sectarian conflicts, and the great loss of human lives.

On this occasion, The Higher Population Council explained in a media briefing that the number of international migrants at the global level has doubled over the past four decades, whereas the percentage of the world population who migrates has remained fairly stable. Data available indicate that there is a continuous and ongoing flow of migration driven by the desire for a better life, escape poverty, political persecution, conflicts, lack of safety and security, social or family pressures, or the effects of climate change, especially forced movement whether internally and within the same country or across borders.

UN current global approximations indicate that the number of international migrants has risen from about 175 million male and female migrants in 2000 to about 281 million international migrants worldwide in 2021, which is equivalent to approximately 3.6% of the world population according to the United Nations report on international migration 2022. These data indicate that the number of international migrants has increased at an annual rate of 2.4% during the period referred to. The data also indicate an increase in the number of international migrants by a total of 106 million during the same period of time referred to. A considerable portion of this rise in numbers is due to labour or family migration and humanitarian crises in many regions. The  number of refugees has also increased between the years 2000 and 2020 from 21.1 million refugees in early 2001 to 33.8 million refugees in 2020 at an annual growth rate of 2.4% during the aforementioned time period.                                             Females constituted 48.1% of the overall immigrants in the world in 2020; the average age of immigrants was 39.1 years. International migrants were distributed in an imbalanced manner according to continents and regions in 2020, where Europe and North America hosted more than half of the number of international migrants (about 145 million), or 51.8%, followed by the North Africa and West Asia regions (about 50 million), with a percentage of 17.7%. %, and the Sub-Saharan Africa region (about 22 million) by 7.9%.

As for Jordan, the current population at the end of 2023 reached about 11.5 million people (a third of whom, at least, do not hold Jordanian citizenship). Six million of the current increase in population volume occurred during the past 19 years. Results of the 2015 General Population and Housing Census indicated that the number of non-Jordanian residents in the Kingdom was 2.92 million people, 1.68 of whom were males compared to 1.24 million females. Diverse nationalities (comprised of Syrians, Egyptians, Palestinians, Iraqis, Yemenis and Libyans) accounted for 93.2% of the non-Jordanians residing in Jordan. Syrians, on the other hand, constituted the largest percentage of non-Jordanians residing in Jordan at 43.4%, followed by Egyptians at 21.8%, and Palestinians at 21.7%, while other Arab nationals and foreigners constituted the remaining 13.1%.

Data on population census indicate that the percentage of non-Jordanians residing in Jordan has increased from 4.2% of the total population in 1979 to 7.7% of the total population in 2004 and to 30.6% of the total population in 2015.                                                                                                          Moreover, birth rates among immigrant families in Jordan are higher than they are among Jordanian families. According to the results of the 2023 Population and Family Health Survey, the completed childbirth rate for Jordanian women of the age group 40-49 years reached 3.7 child per woman, compared to 4.5 children for Syrian women and 4.7 children for each Syrian woman living in camps.                                                                                                                The Higher Population Council considers immigration one of the key issues of the day as incoming foreign migration is one of the direct elements that cause a rapid change in the demographic scene as far as the volume, composition, and distribution of the population, in addition to other direct elements, such are childbirth, mortality, and domestic migration.

The presence of refugees has added demographic, social, economic, environmental, informational, and security burdens to Jordan, which has prompted HPC to conduct a number of meetings, studies, and policy summaries, most notably, a study and policy summary of Reproductive health services provided to Syrians residing outside camps in Jordan in 2016; a study and policy summary of Marriage of Underage Girls in Jordan 2017; a study and policy summary on Demographic characteristics of Syrians in Jordan and opportunities to address asylum challenges on the Jordanian labour market 2018. Another study conducted by HPC was a fact sheet Immigration and Gender 2021, and a study and execution of the Empowerment of refugee women project 2021.


His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein addressed the Global Refugee Forum held last week in Geneva/Switzerland,

‘In an increasingly volatile region, welcoming refugees has become an indelible part of Jordan’s national identity. We cannot turn our backs on refugees, because that is who we are.’

‘But Jordanians have been increasingly feeling that the world is turning its backs on them, as refugee hosts.’

His majesty went on saying, ‘And we remain committed to providing refugees with education at our schools, medical services at our hospitals, and access to livelihood opportunities, but sufficient funds are key to enable us to continue providing basic services.’ 

According to The National Population Strategy for the years (2021-2030), which was recently drawn up and launched by the Higher Population Council in cooperation with the UN Population Fund, the total current migration rate in Jordan reached 4.1% annually, and the current lifetime migration rate in Jordan reached 11%, as shown and stated by the International Migration Survey 2014 that 63% of Jordanian migrants immigrated due to economic reasons, and that 26% of these immigrants left their home in search of better job opportunities.

Data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the end of 2021 indicate that the number of Jordanian immigrants abroad was 924,850 male and female immigrants; according to data, the number of Jordanians residing in the Arab Gulf countries reached a total of (755,730 individuals), or 81.7% of the total Jordanians residing abroad, followed by Jordanians residing in non-Arab countries at 15.2%, then Jordanians residing in the remaining Arab countries at 3.1%.

Social and economic significance of transfer of funds by Jordanian immigrants working abroad are not to be undermined; transfers have grown from JD 9.1 million in 1965 to about JD 2.203 billion in 2022. Transfer of funds can help contribute to promoting tangible economic growth and development. In return, however, transfers of non-Jordanian expatriates working in Jordan may well be larger than those of Jordanians working abroad.

Henceforth, the National Population Strategy set a goal for the immigration and asylum issue. The goal, with other sub-goals branching from it, focused on the optimal employment of immigration and asylum as follows:

  • encouraging self-reliance amongst  refugees and vulnerable Jordanians affected by crises
  • optimal employment of immigrants and expatriate workers
  • reducing immigration abroad and
  • eliminating brain drain and competencies.

The Higher Population Council indicated that migrant workers constitute a large portion of the Jordanian labour market; this in its turn, adds more pressure on the available job opportunities known to be limited and scarce in nature. According to work permits issued by the Ministry of Labour, the number of registered non-Jordanian workers was 351,787 in 2022; Egyptian nationals still constitute the largest part of the workforce at 143,877, followed by domestic help at approximately 50,716 in the same year. As for Syrians, the number of those officially registered at the Ministry of Labour was 624,57 according to The National Labour Market Figures (2018-2022) Labour Market Studies Unit / Labour Market Information Section.

Jordan strives to protect the rights of migrants, be they individuals or groups. Legislations were drawn up to guarantee the rights of all, such as Labour Law No. 8 of 1998, Social Security Law of 2010 and its amendments, Penal Code, Human Trafficking Prevention Law, and Residency and Foreigners Affairs Law No. 24 of 1973 and its amendments.

HPC noted that one of the most outstanding challenges Jordan is facing as a result of refugees is the increasing pressure on the limited resources of water sources, public services, the housing sector, economic growth, trade, exports, tourism and investments, which have all led to an increase in the budget deficit and public debt. This is in addition to more burdens on educational and health services in hospitals and secondary health care centres in rural areas hosting Syrian refugees. Additionally, the infiltration of large numbers of Syrians, whether those who hold the status of refugees or resident Syrians who have not been registered as refugees, into the Jordanian labour market has led to more complications and dire conditions in the economic conditions in the Jordanian labour market, thus creating a new challenge for Jordanian job seekers.

Furthermore, The Higher Population Council pointed out that one of the challenges facing migration in Jordan is the multiplicity of parties that deal with the international migration file, which constitutes an obstacle towards developing effective policies to address the international migration phenomenon and its governance. Subsequently, this calls for detailing the partnership amongst all parties concerned with the migration file so as each party acts according to its specialty. Additionally, it is imperative to find a body interrelated with the process of managing and governing migration in all its aspects, and which acts as coordinator between all ministries and institutions concerned with migration. Subsequently, financial transfers made through migrants also constitute an important part, whether for countries sending out or hosting migrants, which calls for the need to find a mechanism by which to control financial transfers performed by expatriate workers abroad.

The Higher Population Council made several recommendations based on international agreements and conventions, by which effective policies, programs, and operational responses on the ground can be guided. The most important of these recommendations are as follow:

  • Compiling, analysing and using reliable and updated data and information that include population structure, cross-border activities and numbers of expatriates
  • providing institutional, legal, and regulatory frameworks related to immigration policies
  • supporting state research institutions to compile data on international migrant flows and migration drivers in cooperation with international organizations and non-governmental organizations NGOs
  • increasing cooperation and dialogue between countries that send out migrants and those hosting them so that benefits of migration reaches it optimum
  • reducing and minimizing risks and vulnerabilities that migrants face at different stages of migration through respecting and protecting their human rights
  • providing care and assistance to all migrants
  • ensuring that migrants are entitled to their rights, including the right to education and services of all kinds.

Sources :

  • Department of Statistics, General Census of Population and Housing 2015
  • Department of Statistics, Population and Family Health Survey, 2023
  • Department of Statistics, Jordan in numbers 2022
  • Higher Population Council, Migration and Gender/ Factsheet 2021
  • Higher Population Council, National Population Strategy 2021-2030
  • Ministry of Labour, National Labour Market Indicators Report 2018-2022
  • Central Bank of Jordan, Economic Indicators Base 2022
  • United Nations report on international migration 2022
  • Analysis of the international migration status in Jordan, the Higher Population Council2023/ to be endorsed by ESCWA