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Security of Jordanian citizens is most important human right, gov't says

By JT - Jun 23,2016 - Last updated at Jun 23,2016

Members of the Border Guards assists Syrian refugees who crossed into Jordan recently (Photo by Hassan Tamimi)

AMMAN — The government on Wednesday said Jordan's security comes before any other consideration, but it does not accept any attempt to undermine its humanitarian efforts in the service of refugees.

Responding to a statement by Amnesty International that said Jordan should not close its northeastern border after a terrorist attack there killed six troops and injured 14 others, Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad Momani said the organisation should maintain objectivity and acknowledge the Kingdom's efforts in hosting refugees.

“Our border is now a closed military zone and His Majesty King Abdullah's order is that we strike with an iron fist” against attempts to disrupt Jordan's security, Momani said in a statement.

Instead of criticising Jordan, he added, Amnesty should have pressured the international community to share the humanitarian burden and receive more of the refugees who are on the border awaiting support.

"The security of our citizens is the most important human right," Momani added.

Around 1.3 Syrians live in Jordan, over 600,000 of whom are registered with the UNHCR as refugees.

Earlier in the day, Amnesty International said Jordan's response to the deadly car bomb attack on its border should not entail "closing the border and denying humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing armed conflict".

More than 70,000 people are stranded in the desert area known as “the berm”, which is a raised barrier of sand marking the Jordanian limit of the Jordan-Syria border near Rakban and Hadalat crossings, the organisation said in a statement. 

 “Jordan has a duty to protect civilians from armed attacks — but its security measures must not violate its international legal obligations to provide protection and assistance to refugees who are desperately fleeing the very same type of violence. Denying them entry into Jordan amounts to a violation of international law,” the statement quoted Sherif Elsayed Ali, head of refugee and migrants’ rights at Amnesty International, as saying.

On Tuesday Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said the terrorist attack is solid proof of the existence of terrorist elements among the people at the borders.

“Jordan has always warned of the increase in Syrians' numbers at the border, especially since it has amounted to 100,000 people, most of whom are from northern and northeastern Syria where Daesh members are located,” he told the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the European Union, in addition to representatives of the UNHCR and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

 

An agreement with international organisations must be reached to find alternative means to deliver humanitarian aid to the displaced, Judeh added.

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