We arrived in Baghdad from Amman yesterday. Today has been spent so far on logistics such as getting cell phone SIM cards and setting up interviews, so I'll reflect quickly on Jordan and begin blogging about Iraq in my next post.
For the last four years and half-dozen or so trips to Iraq, Amman has served as my "jumping off" point. Sometimes I'm there for less than a day, sometimes it's a month. While I've mostly focused on Iraq, I've noticed changes in Amman: mostly the unchecked suburban sprawl and the growing number of Iraqi refugees. The first wave began coming in earnest more than two years ago, mostly wealthy Iraqis escaping kidnappings and lawlessness. Last year's widespread sectarian violence changed the dynamic, and though estimates vary, most people agree Jordan is now home to more than 700,000 Iraqi refugees, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet.
You can listen to a radio piece I did on the UNHCR increasing its budget for the Iraqi refugee crisis here.
Jewad, an Iraqi refugee living in fear of Jordanian police raids and deportation back to Iraq. Some Jordanians describe the refugees, who are often exploited as illegal labor, as "ghosts."
Iraqi children in Amman's Mahata neighborhood.