IOM-UNODC sign agreement with the Government of Jordan to upgrade al-Karamah border crossing point with EU funds

17 December 2018

Amman, 10 December 2018. In strong partnership with the Government of Jordan, and to contribute to the recovery of the economy in the region, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are joining efforts under a project funded by the European Union Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (EU IcSP) to bring al-Karamah border crossing point to the capacity it had before its closure in the summer of 2015. The expertise of both UN agencies will be mobilized as per the delivering as one approach, implemented by the UN in Jordan, to support the different Jordanian departments with authority at the borders, under the coordination of the Jordanian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MoPIC).

“As you are all aware, Iraq has always been a key economic partner for Jordan and a significant market for the Jordanian exports. The closure of Karamah border point over the past years have had a significant negative impact on Jordan’s manufacturing sector and on the Jordan’s economy in general, and the government is working tirelessly to restore the economic ties with this important country for the benefit of the two sides, and we hope that the rehabilitation of Karamah will constitute another building block in this effort.” said Dr Maria Kawar, Minister of MoPIC.

Al-Karamah is the only official border crossing point along the borders between Iraq and Jordan. The border crossing point was reopened in August 2017 raising the hopes of traders and consumers on an improvement of the Jordanian economy. The long-lasting crises in Syria and Iraq forced the closure of the land borders with both neighbors, increasing considerably the price of importing and exporting products to and from Jordan, and closing the direct route between the ports of Aqaba, on the Red Sea, and Basra, on the Arabian Gulf. Before the closure of the borders, Iraq was one of the main trade partners of Jordan; in 2013, 178,573 commercial trucks used al-Karamah to enter Iraq from Jordan, and 173,788 entered Jordan from Iraq.

"Border crossing points facilitate trade and exchange between people and communities. This EU-funded project will share the EU approach on integrated border management and adapt it to the situation at the Jordan/Iraq border with a view to facilitate bilateral trade and the movement of people”, said Mr Andrea Matteo Fontana, European Union Ambassador to Jordan.

The project will look at the establishment of a joint building for all departments working at al-Karamah. The single window approach will ease the procedures and shorten the waiting time for passengers travelling to and from Iraq, increasing the capacity of the border crossing point to process a higher number of passengers per day. The security of the passengers and the Kingdom will continue to be at the center of the operations, with trainings on document forgery detection and other techniques related to border management. The communities at both sides of the border are among the frequent passengers using the border crossing point. A young passenger shared with IOM, the UN migration agency, at the border facilities “I am from al-Anbar and I study pharmacy in Amman. I used to pay around 200 dollars to fly to Baghdad, and then I had to take a bus to al-Anbar from the capital. With the border post re-opened, I save money and time, and I can come home more often.”

“Communities in remote border regions are generally in need of additional support to take advantage of the opportunities and to overcome the challenges associated to a border context. The project will contribute to revitalize the economy of Mafraq and al-Anbar regions that used to rely on the livelihoods directly or indirectly created by the movements through the border post, before its closure”, said Mr Enrico Ponziani, Chief of Mission of IOM.

The project will also aim at improving the cargo control procedures to secure and facilitate trade with the extension of the UNODC/World Customs Organization Container Control Programme (CCP) to al-Karamah border crossing point, and the establishment of a Border Control Unit at the crossing point. The CCP started in Jordan in February 2015, at the Port of Aqaba, and was extended to Queen Alia International Airport in 2016.  Within the program, officers deployed at al-Karamah from different departments will be trained through a combination of onsite classroom training, practical field training, e-learning modules and a study visit abroad. The infrastructures dedicated to cargo control will be upgraded to be able to host more staff and trucks at the same time, with better working standards. Furthermore, cooperation with the private sector will be strengthened.

“UNODC’s contribution to this project is two-pronged. Firstly, it aims at further securing the Al Karamah-Turaibil border crossing by strengthening the capacity of Jordanian and Iraqi law enforcement agencies to prevent trafficking of illicit goods including for the purpose of terrorism. Secondly, it serves to facilitate trade across the border by strengthening cooperation with the private sector and streamlining cargo clearance and control processes”, said Ms. Cristina Albertin, Regional Representative, UNODC.

The project will build on the efforts of cooperation boosted by the Governments of Jordan and Iraq in the last year to re-open and upgrade the capacity of al-Karamah border crossing point, and to improve the procedures for the movements of goods and passengers through the post, in the benefit of the people of both countries.

For further information, please contact:

Laura Sisniega (Communications Officer of IOM in Amman), lsisniegacrespo@iom.int

Gonçalo Guedes (Communication, Visibility and Culture Coordinator), Goncalo.GUEDES@eeas.europa.eu