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Jordan says Syrians in no-man’s land are world’s responsibility

By Mohammad Ghazal , Khetam Malkawi - Aug 06,2016 - Last updated at Aug 06,2016

Displaced Syrians gather in the Rakban settlement on the Jordanian-Syrian border to receive basic food items and other aid from community leaders charged with distributing the supplies on Thursday (AP photo)

AMMAN — As Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the US to help Jordan transfer an estimated 70,000 Syrians stranded on the Kingdom’s border, the government on Saturday reiterated that the refugees’ plight is an “international problem”.

“Our borders remain a sealed military zone, and addressing the issue of those Syrians stranded in the no-man’s land is not Jordan’s problem,” Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad Momani told The Jordan Times on Saturday.

“The UN and all countries need to find a solution to deliver aid to the refugees. We are always willing to take our share of the responsibility but what about the others?” Momani added. 

In a letter to US President Barack Obama on Friday, HRW said the US should also step up its efforts to resettle Syrians who are living in Jordan and other neighbouring countries.

“It is critically important to help Jordan find a solution to move these highly vulnerable people to a safe place where they can be screened for security concerns and protection needs,” Bill Frelick, the director of refugee rights at HRW, said in a statement.

“We are urging President Obama not only to help Jordan increase its capacity to provide asylum, but also to step up efforts to resettle the refugees in the US and to encourage other countries to do the same,” said Frelick.

Momani said Jordan is willing to help in the issue.

“Jordan has always shouldered its responsibilities in this respect,” said the minister, adding that the rest of the world must also assume their duties and help those in need.

Jordanian officials have put the number of those stranded at the border at more than 100,000, but there are reports of Syrians leaving the makeshift camp back to their homes.

Prior to the closure of the northern border following the killing of seven troops in a car bomb attack near Rakban camp, Jordan was receiving dozens of refugees daily.

However, since the closure of the area no Syrian refugee has entered the Kingdom, except some injured Syrians who were allowed in for treatment.

The HRW letter to Obama came one day after Jordan allowed the delivery of life-saving assistance to the stranded refugees for the first time since the terrorist attack near the makeshift camp in June.

Momani said the delivery of aid was a one-time occurrence and would not be repeated.

On Thursday, food provided by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), bread from the International Organisation for Migration  and UNICEF hygiene kits were lifted from the Jordanian side by 70-metre high cranes and lowered into encampments for the displaced in the Syrian desert. 

The 650 metric tonnes of aid was delivered to two locations, Rakban and Hadalat, over three days, according to a WFP statement released Friday.

“We are very grateful for the support of the Jordanian government and the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army to make this happen,” said Mageed Yahia, the representative and country director of WFP in Jordan. 

“It is a one-off distribution but we are working on reaching a longer term solution to the needs of the tens of thousands of people in the area,” he added. 

 

Jordan is home to some 1.3 million Syrians, according to the 2015 census.

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