Jordan has granted entry visas to around 17,000 Iraqis in less than three months, the local press reported on Sunday, as the tiny kingdom struggles to cope with a huge influx of refugees.
"There have been 9,489 visa requests for a total of 27,817 Iraqis between April 22 and July 9," Interior Minister Eid Fayez was quoted as saying.
"The government granted entry for 17,054 people and denied 6,009 requests. The ministry is currently examining 4,806 applications."
Between 500,000 and 750,000 Iraqis live in Jordan, which imposed visa requirements on Iraqis on May 1 as part of plans to deal with the flood of people from its violence-ravaged neighbour.
Fayez said 3,000 Iraqi illegals left Jordan after the government waived their unpaid fines in line with a February decision to encourage as many refugees as possible to go home.
"Around 12,000 Iraqis decided to stay after paying fines," he said.
Iraqis are supposed to apply for residency permits after three months in the kingdom.
The equivalent of a 760-dollar fine is payable for each year spent in Jordan without a permit. Previously such fines had to be paid by returning illegals on departure.
Officials have said such "heavy fines" have been a major deterrent to the estimated 360,000 Iraqi illegals in Jordan from returning home.
Last Mod: 20 Temmuz 2008, 13:57