Khetam Malkawi, The Jordan Times
AMMAN — Jordan has offered help to any country that is willing to take in thousands of Syrian refugees camping across the border with Syria, “to whom the country has extended a lifeline of relief aid and is allowing dozens of them to cross into the Kingdom on a daily basis”.
Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani said on Monday that there are around 16,000 Syrians in camps situated a few hundred metres from the Jordanian side in the “no-man’s land”, fleeing danger zones in northern and eastern Syria that are “in fact closer to other neighbouring countries than to Jordan”.
“Jordan is willing to cooperate with any country which might be able to take refugees from the border camp,” the minister stressed, adding that the Syrians in these camps are being provided with their needs of supplies, tents and medications through Jordan, provided by Jordan-based UN agencies, as well as Jordan Armed Forces- Arab Army (JAF) and other donors.
“They are receiving all their humanitarian needs and there are clinics within the camp supported by international agencies and JAF,” the minister told The Jordan Times, adding that the Ministry of Health also conducted vaccination campaigns for children in this make-shift camp.
According to Momani, Jordan allows the entry of an average of 50 to 100 vulnerable Syrians refugees from the “border camp” into the country daily, while the provision of relief aid and care is continuous.
A UN statement issued last month said that 12,000 Syrian refugees were stranded at the Jordanian-Syrian border in “deteriorating humanitarian conditions”.
Momani, however, said the government has granted ICRC, UNICEF, IOM and UNHCR access to the area.
“A coordination system is in place, led by the Civil Military liaison officer from JAF to coordinate directly with the relevant UN agencies to provide the essential humanitarian assistance to those Syrians,” the minister said, adding that humanitarian actors and some local charity organisations are providing, food, heaters, water and health support to the camp dwellers.
He stressed that Jordan encourages international agencies to provide all the needed support.
Currently 75 NGO employees are working in the camp under UNHCR supervision.
In addition, the location of the camps on the border is carefully monitored by JAF as the area is a military zone.
“The army is also providing healthcare and emergency relief to critical cases, especially among children, women and the elderly. These are often allowed into Jordan, treated and often remain in the Kingdom.” Momani noted the JAF is taking on a huge burden in the effort to assist the population and to escort humanitarian actors in delivering aid.
Jordan’s security is the first priority for the Kingdom, the official told The Jordan Times; nevertheless “our borders remain open and Jordan has so far hosted around 1.4 million Syrians on its territory or the equivalent of 20 per cent of its population.”
In Jordan, around 85 per cent of Syrian refugees live in towns and cities, while the rest live two fully-served refugee camps.
UN appeals for humanitarian aid to address the crisis in Syria are only 38 per cent funded, resulting in cutbacks to food and other essential services.
At times, Momani explained, up to 5,000 refugees used to cross the border per day, and be received by JAF.
“This has been mostly done at Jordan’s expense. Refugees are allowed into Jordan from other areas on the border. Jordan remains committed to its open border policy while taking needed security measures to ensure that citizens and refugees are protected,” the minister stressed.