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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    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 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 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 Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    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 With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke 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.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora