News / Middle East

What's Behind the Drop in Syrian Refugees to Jordan?

A Syrian refugee woman carrying her son is reflected a puddle of rain water as she stands outside her tent after heavy rain at al-Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the Syrian border, January 10, 2013.
A Syrian refugee woman carrying her son is reflected a puddle of rain water as she stands outside her tent after heavy rain at al-Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the Syrian border, January 10, 2013.
Elizabeth Arrott
— The constant flow of refugees from Syria into Jordan has slowed to a near halt in recent days, raising concerns of a yet another humanitarian crisis in the two-year conflict.

The war in Syria has turned a dusty, desolate patch of land just south of the border into what is now Jordan's fifth largest city. An average of 2,500 Syrians fled here every day, in the last few months.

Syrian Refugees by Country

Jordan: 421,547
Lebanon: 414,781
Turkey: 293,761
Iraq: 128,845
Egypt: 50,054

Source: UNHCR
But, since Sunday, according to those registering new refugees at the camp, not a single one has come. Humanitarian officials said only a handful of refugees has entered the country in the past few days.

Refugee Osama was one of the last to check in here, arriving with his family Saturday. Osama said conditions in his village near the border had deteriorated rapidly as troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad went on the offensive against rebels in the area.

He said government snipers shot at anyone trying to leave. Still, he and his relatives made the difficult journey unharmed.

But the next day, some charged, it was not just the Syrian government trying to stop the exodus, but Jordanian border guards as well. Jordanian authorities reject the accusation, saying they are not stopping anyone from coming in. There are several official crossings along the border and dozens of unofficial ones.  

Retired General Fayez al-Dwairi of the King Abdullah Academy for Defense Studies said Jordan will keep the borders open, no matter what.

He said the reasons are many, including historic ties between the people of the two countries and the religious and moral imperative of helping anyone fleeing violence and death.

Jordan has been hospitable, taking in some half a million Syrians: 130,000 in Zaatari and the rest mixing in with the general population and imposing a huge strain on the nation's limited resources.

One security official suggested that burden may be behind the drop in numbers, which coincides with meetings on increasing aid to cope with the refugees. A few days into the crisis, the United Nations and the United States announced additional aid.

The cut-off has also coincided with what rebels said is a dramatic decrease in the supply of weapons and other material support that had been flowing through Jordan from rebel allies in the Gulf, raising additional questions of behind-the-scenes deals.

Although the reasons for the dramatic decrease in refugee numbers remain unclear, one thing is certain: thousands of refugees are trying to get to safety and cannot, adding another layer of misery onto an already miserable situation.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid