by Khetam Malkawi | Feb 11, 2015 | 23:19

AMMAN — The sudden increase in the number of non-Jordanians in the Kingdom has affected population growth and fertility rates, and led to an increase in crime, an official said this week.

Sawsan Majali, secretary general of the Higher Population Council (HPC), noted that having 2.5 million non-Jordanians in the country, the majority of whom are refugees, has affected the demographic transformation and the realisation of the demographic opportunity.

“This increase poses a challenge to benefiting from the expected population opportunity due to the difference in the fertility and mortality rates between Jordanians and refugees,” Majali said at a meeting organised by the UNFPA to discuss issues related to population and the national census.

She noted that realising the population opportunity is connected with reaching a certain fertility rate, and if affected, the opportunity will not be realised.

The “demographic opportunity” is a stage in a country’s development during which the ratio of dependents (children and the elderly) to workers is at its lowest.

Due to this change in population, the council has developed new scenarios for the national demographic opportunity and referred them to the Cabinet for approval, according to Majali.

This abnormal population increase, she added, has a negative social impact on the community.

Citing the crime report for the year 2013, Majali said non-Jordanians committed 4,354 crimes, which constituted 13 per cent of the total 33,853 crimes recorded that year.

In addition, it led to the rise of new types of crimes such as political crimes, due to the political differences among non-Jordanians.

Another issue of concern, she noted, is the diagnosis of communicable diseases among non-Jordanians that were already eliminated among Jordanians, such as polio.

The rise in the number of non-Jordanians, especially refugees, also has an economic impact on the country as they dominate jobs in certain sectors such as agriculture and construction, according to the official.

In addition, it adds more pressure on the country’s limited resources such as water and energy.

Meanwhile, the conflicting figures on the Kingdom’s current population, number of refugees and migrants issued by different institutions has affected planning, according to the HPC secretary general.

Therefore, Majali, along with other officials and experts who participated in the meeting, called for accelerating the process of establishing a “migration department” at the Interior Ministry.

This department, which is currently under establishment, will help in obtaining more accurate and unified figures, and in formulating development and population strategies, Majali noted.