(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Prime minister calls on "brotherly countries" for humanitarian aid

Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu al-Raghib on Sunday told IRIN that the Kingdom "expected both humanitarian and economic support from our brotherly countries in the international community", noting that "some countries" had already offered such assistance.

Speaking at a news conference in the Jordanian capital, Amman, Abu al-Raghib warned that war in neighbouring Iraq would have widespread economic implications for Jordan, including the tourism and exports sectors, two of Jordan’s most important sources of revenue. "Revenues for the national budget will therefore be affected, but we’ll do our best to help these sectors," he told IRIN.

He noted that Jordan’s oil supply from Iraq had been cut off, and that the Kingdom was currently relying on reserves it had stored in its port city of Aqabah. However, he said, arrangements had been made "with other countries" for a continued supply.

As for the absence of refugees in Jordan – to date, no Iraqi refugees from the current conflict have been officially recognised – Abu al-Raghib said he did not know why none had thus far sought refuge in the Kingdom. "It is their choice to make; Jordan is ready to receive them," he stated.

In fact, he noted, there were "more Iraqis going to Iraq [from Jordan] than coming to Jordan", referring to busloads of Iraqis who have returned to Iraq in recent days to be with their families or, in some cases, to defend their country, according to local media reports.

Jordan hosted more than one million people following the 1991 Gulf War, and the Kingdom – with an estimated population of five million - is currently home to some 300,000 Iraqis.

Abu al-Raghib reiterated that Jordan had "exerted all possible efforts to avoid this war", and called for "new political efforts to end the conflict and minimise damages". However, it was unclear as to how this could be achieved, noting that the "Arab League was not in its best form at the moment, with so many differences existing among its members", the prime minister said.

Abu al-Raghib expressed the Kingdom’s concern for civilian casualties, lamenting that they were "already too great", and called for the protection of civilians "according to the UN Charter".

"There will be no winners in this war, everyone will be a loser," he concluded.

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