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.
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

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs