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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora