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80,000 Syrians Take Refuge in Jordan

Scott Bobb

The Syrian government's assault on opposition strongholds is causing more and more people to flee the country. Neighboring countries such as Jordan are trying to help them, but the influx is straining limited resources.

Early morning at this makeshift camp near Karama in the Jordan River Valley.  Some of the 80,000 Syrians who have taken refuge in Jordan have come to this farming area hoping to find work.

Sixteen-year-old Khaled al-Ahmed arrived a few days ago, fleeing what he calls the slaughter in Idlib, northern Syria.  He wants his face hidden.  He fears for the safety of his relatives back home. He says his family is desperate.

“There is no bread. There is no money to live on.  I want to transfer money from here to them. But I cannot because if it reaches there it is stolen. So how do you think they are living? They are starving," he said.

The fighting in Syria has grown increasingly deadly. The Syrian army is using tanks and artillery against rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.  Civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict, which started as mostly peaceful demonstrations against the 40-year regime of the Assad family.

Dr. Wasfi al-Rashda heads the Irbid Specialty Hospital.  He says the condition of the refugees is deplorable but is to be expected.

“Any refugee who leaves his homeland, who leaves his house, obviously is going to need humanitarian aid and medical care," he said.

Many refugees receive help from the Jordanians.  A local farmer lets these people live on his land.  And the Jordanian government has donated tents and blankets. But it is not enough. This woman is ill and fainted.

Ali Hamad arrived two months ago from Hama, central Syria. He says life in the camp is hard for the refugees. The best they can hope for is temporary jobs in the fields.

“We are here doing nothing. If we find jobs we work just to have the basics, to survive. Clothes for the children, food, some small spending money, that's what we are asking," he said.

Ali Hamad is engaged to 20-year-old Mariam, also from Hama. They want to get married but cannot as long as they are refugees. Mariam hopes for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

"God willing I will go back to Syria. God willing the war will calm down and the situation will be quiet and then I will return," he said.

That is the hope of all of the people here.

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