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In Jordan, an act of charity for Iraqis turns into bureaucratic mess

From Amy Hybels, For CNN
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Iraqis line up at bank
  • Thousands of Iraqis were promised $200 apiece
  • Several hundred waited in the hot sun to get inside a bank
  • Confusion over documents further snarls the process
  • "We are doing our best," said the spokesman from the Iraqi delivery team

Amman, Jordan (CNN) -- What was supposed to be an act of charity for Iraqis living in Jordan turned into a bureaucratic nightmare this week.

Traffic slowed to a standstill near Second Circle in Jabal Amman on Thursday as several hundred Iraqis tried to push their way through the doors of an Iraqi bank.

In all, 9,500 individuals and families living in Jordan who are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are eligible to receive a $200 gift, courtesy of Iraq's Department of Immigration.

The launch of the program was delayed, causing the team sent from Iraq to set up shop inside the bank during Ramadan, when Muslims fast from food and water until after sunset.

A spokesman with the delivery team sent from the Ministry of Immigration in Baghdad, Akram Murad Ali, confirmed no schedule was established to coordinate the payouts.

Tempers flared outside the bank as many of the people stood in the hot sun.

Initial confusion about what documentation was necessary to receive the money resulted in chaos inside the bank.

Ali said the team had thought that handing out the money through the bank made the most sense. But he admitted the small size of the bank building was problematic in light of the large crowds arriving to collect their cash gift.

"We are doing our best," he said.

The program will continue into next week.