AMMAN — Over 6,000 Syrians have registered as refugees in the month of May, according to UN officials, as a growing population of displaced Syrians appears to be settling in for an extended stay in the Kingdom.
According to agency officials, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) registered 6,236 Syrians in May — a number that may reach 7,000 in the next few days — marking the largest number of registrations in a single month since the launch of Damascus’ crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in March 2011.
This month’s spike in registrations has pushed the total number of Syrian refugees to over 21,200 amid an ongoing influx of Syrians into the Kingdom, which relief officials place at some 200 individuals each day.
The UNHCR points to increased outreach efforts and the recent dispatch of a mobile office to the border city of Ramtha as the main reasons behind the rise in registrations, which officials acknowledge is unrepresentative of the total number of Syrians in need in Jordan.
According to the UN, the majority of registered refugees, some 51.1 per cent, originate from Homs, the epicentre of Damascus’ ongoing military crackdown, while over one-fourth, 26.5 per cent, originate from Daraa.
Over one-third of refugees, 35.6 per cent, have settled in Irbid and Ramtha, 18.6 per cent have taken up residence in Mafraq and 30 per cent currently reside in the capital, according to the UN.
More Syrians are coming forward to register as refugees — a distinction that guarantees them various rights and privileges under international law — as part of a growing realisation among the burgeoning community that they will be unable to return to their homeland as soon as previously believed.
Syrians say they have decided to register in order to receive services such as cash assistance and greater access to healthcare and to receive priority status for resettlement to third party countries should the crisis in Syria devolve into civil war.
Abu Yousef, a Homs resident who crossed into the Kingdom via a desert smuggling route last week, said ongoing “war crimes” such as last week’s massacre in the town of Houla had made a return to Syria a “distant dream” for most Syrians.
“Our children are being murdered, our mothers and daughters are being raped, our homes are being demolished,” Abu Yousef said.
“How can we ever return if our country has been bled dry?”
Jordan follows an open border policy, granting refuge to all Syrians who cross into the Kingdom legally or illegally, having received over 115,000 Syrians since March 2011.
Officials have issued several statements in recent weeks warning that the growing refugee community is placing a strain on the Kingdom’s water, health, education and housing sectors.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh discussed with UNHCR Representative Andrew Harper ways to bolster cooperation to extend basic services to Syrian refugees.
The two sides also explored ways to gather greater support from the international community to enable Jordan to continue health and educational services to displaced Syrians, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.
Earlier this month, the UN Refugee Agency joined up with the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation, the leading Jordanian entity tasked with distributing relief to Syrian refugees, in order to provide Amman with financial support from a recently established $82 million regional response fund.