News / Middle East

Jordan Army Turns Back Syrian Refugees at Border

A girl wears a headband in the colors of the Syrian revolutionary flag and painted her face with hearts during a protest in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan, May 17, 2013.A girl wears a headband in the colors of the Syrian revolutionary flag and painted her face with hearts during a protest in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan, May 17, 2013.
x
A girl wears a headband in the colors of the Syrian revolutionary flag and painted her face with hearts during a protest in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan, May 17, 2013.
A girl wears a headband in the colors of the Syrian revolutionary flag and painted her face with hearts during a protest in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan, May 17, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Jordan has turned away thousands of Syrian refugees in the past week in the first such clampdown since the crisis in Syria began more than two years ago, diplomats, activists and aid workers said on Tuesday.
 
Jordan, due to host an international conference on Syria on Wednesday, has already taken in 473,587 Syrians out of a total of 1.5 million who have fled the conflict in an exodus that has accelerated in the past four months, U.N. figures show.
 
All four unofficial crossing points used by refugees trying to escape bombardments in the southern province of Deraa have been closed for the past six days, refugees and aid workers say, although the official frontier post at Jaber remained open.
 
They said Syrian families trying to pass into Jordan from the rebel-held border villages of Nasib and Tel Shehab had been turned away with no reason given by the Jordanians.
 
“The Jordanian authorities have stopped receiving refugees whatever their circumstance, except the wounded,” Abu Hussein al-Zubi, a Syrian aid worker contacted by phone in Nasib, where he said at least 1,000 refugees were stranded.
 
“There are now many refugees gathering on the border trying to enter Jordan and waiting for the border to open,” he said.
 
The daily exodus is facilitated by Syrian rebels and Jordanian troops on either side of a border marked only by a barbed wire barrier and Jordanian sentry towers.
 
A Western diplomat linked the closure to security measures before Wednesday's “Friends of Syria” meeting in Amman, where foreign ministers of Western and Gulf states opposed to Assad will discuss the quest for a political solution in Syria.
 
“The Jordanians are worried about security issues (and) are sending signals to the international community highlighting the huge refugee burden they are now shouldering,” he said.
 
Resource-poor Jordan has long sought to win more outside help in its struggle to cope with the vast influx of refugees.
 
In Geneva, a U.N. official said it was important that Jordan keep its borders open to refugees.
 
“Of course we are discussing with everybody, we are discussing with the Jordanian government to make sure that people are able to cross without facing any difficulty to reach safety wherever they are,” Panos Moumtzis, regional coordinator of the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, told a news briefing.
 
UNHCR's representative in Jordan, Andrew Harper, confirmed to Reuters that the refugee flow had slowed to a trickle in the last few days, but said the reasons were not clear.
 
“What we are pretty sure of is that the refugees are not coming to the border. At the moment the access routes to the border are closed,” he said.
 
Harper said fewer than 30 refugees had arrived in the last three days, compared to the usual 1,000 to 2,000 a day, but said Jordan had told UNHCR it was not turning back refugees.
 
“The Jordanians are saying the flow is restricted on the other side ... and that people are not actually getting to the border, whether that is true or not,” he said.
 
Jordanian officials have made no public comment.
 
U.N. agencies say privately they cannot verify what happens at the border because they only register refugees when they arrive at Zaatari camp, which houses more than 100,000 people and is by far the largest Syrian refugee camp in the region.
 
Harper said much more needed to be done to expand relief efforts inside southern Syria to relieve the burden on Jordan, where resources are stretched to the utmost.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid