Jordan Braces for 1.5 million Refugees, Interior Minister Says

Ghaleb al-Zoubi has warned that his country’s capacity to accommodate Syrian refugees will soon be reached, writes Tamer al-Samadi. Jordan apparently received 10,000 refugees in just three days recently and is concerned that it won't be able to provide aid to the flood of Syrians crossing the border.

al-monitor Syrian refugees walk after collecting water at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria. Photo by REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed.


refugee camps, unhcr, un, syrian refugees, syrian crisis, syrian-jordanian borders, syrian, refugees, jordan

سبت 7, 2012

Jordanian Interior Minister Ghaleb al-Zoubi announced on September 5 that “according to official forecasts, an influx of Syrian refugees — up to 1.5 million — are expected to enter Jordan, exceeding the country’s capacity.”

Official sources have told Al-Hayat that the policy council headed by King Abdullah II, the highest decision-making authority in the country, has recently held several closed meetings to look at studies presented by the Ministry of Interior, the two intelligence apparatuses and General Intelligence, which have predicted that the number of refugees will reach this level.

The council also discussed ways to deal with the rapid changes on the Jordanian-Syrian border, which is over 350 km long. According to sources, the studies were based on an assessment carried out by security and military teams working at the border, as well as security analysis on the situation inside Syria.

During a visit to Jordan's al-Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, the interior minister told reporters yesterday: “10,000 Syrians have entered the camp in just three days. On some days, we receive over 5,000 refugees each night.”

The camp adjacent to al-Zaatari, a village on the border of near al-Mafraq, accommodates over 27,000 Syrians, according to official figures, while just 12,000 Jordanians live in the al-Zaatari village. This confirms that the number of Syrian refugees is on the rise. The refugee camp has become a big city compared to al-Zaatari village, whose residents are suffering the same difficult conditions as the residents of the camp.

State Minister for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Samih Maaytah told Al-Hayat that “the developments in Syria prompt us to think of all possibilities.” He said that “what mainly worries Jordan is the economic burden of receiving tens of thousands of refugees, especially amid a decline of aid provided by donors.”

A recent report issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) revealed that the Jordanian government and the UNHCR “are making arrangements to deal with a large influx of refugees in the coming period, and that “relief materials sufficient for 150,000 new refugees are being made available.”

The report — which Al-Hayat obtained a copy of — stated that “the entry of Syrian refugees to Jordan has settled/stabilized at a rate of 1,400 refugees per day.” Other reports indicate an increase in the number of refugees coming from southern Syria.

UNHCR representative in Amman Andrew Harper said that “the international community is unfair to Jordan, which is facing significant challenges because of the continuing flow of Syrian refugees.” He told Al-Hayat that “the humanitarian situation on the borders may have serious repercussions...Jordan, which has opened its borders to the Syrian refugees, should receive urgent support.”

He also said that “thousands of Syrians have recently left the al-Zaatari camp, and some escaped because of the living conditions inside the camp.”

Jordanian security sources told Al-Hayat that close to 200 Syrian refugees are returning to their country every day after submitting applications to the management of al-Zaatari camp. She said that “the Jordanian border guard is returning refugees who wish to leave Jordan through the informal border they used to enter into the country, away from the eyes of the regular Syrian army.”

The Jordanian government has threatened to take “restrictive measures” regarding the steady flow of Syrian refugees into its territories, confirming that the number of refugees has reached over 200,000. Jordanian relief organizations put the number at 300,000.

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المزيد من Tamer al-Samadi