Jordan: Thousands of Syrians Seek Refuge

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

The situation in Syria has led hundreds of thousands of Syrians to flee the country, and many have gone to neighbouring Jordan. A Jordanian government source has said that officials are preparing for the possible arrival of up to one million Syrians.

The government has given the UN permission to establish up to 22 refugee camps in northern Jordan. Until now thousands of Syrians have been seeking refuge in Jordanian towns and cities, many depending on the support of charitable organisations and individuals.

American journalism students Matt Kauffman and Melissa Tabeek have written about the plight of Syrian refugees in Jordan:

Since March of last year, the number of Syrians seeking refuge in Jordan has increased at an exponential rate. What started as a trickle has turned into a flood; in the past two months the amount of “persons of concern” registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, has leapt from 13,933 to about 24,000 – an increase of about 70 percent. But the real number is closer to 120,000, experts say. While Jordan has long been a safe haven for refugees throughout the Arab world – some estimates say that there are already 2 million Palestinian, Iraqi and Libyan refugees in this country of 6.5 million Jordanians – the situation with Syrians is special. The influx from the north poses a dilemma. The Jordanian government has not officially recognized them as refugees, but rather “guests” of the country. Unlike neighboring Turkey – which is harboring Syrian refugees in traditional tented camps – Syrians in Jordan are finding safety in cities and villages scattered throughout the kingdom, stretching already limited resources in a country that depends on outside aid. Safety does not always spell decency though; Syrian families sometimes numbering in the double digits are confined to a few small rooms inside overrun apartments.

Fawaz Bilbeisi noted:

@fbilbeisi: #Jordan king announced that security along border w/ #Syria is tightened but Syrian refugees fleeing violence will still be allowed 2 enter

The UN Refugee Agency expressed its thanks:

@Refugees: In times like these, we really are grateful that #Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey maintain open borders & that #refugees are being welcomed. #Syria

Syrian Women's Association, Amman. Photo by EskewMe, used with permission.

Blogger EskewMe has visited the Syrian Women's Association in Amman:

Um Eysam, the director of the Syrian Women's Association, in Amman, Jordan says that they have registered around 4,000 refugees since the war began in Syria, and they are struggling to manage serving them with food, residences, water, and medical treatment as it is. They expect that the next wave of refugees coming from Damascus to be the largest and the funding for their stay in Jordan to be the most difficult. At least 100 to 350 refugees arrive at the Syrian Women's Association every night, and the number is increasing every day, another director of the organization said. […] In the building directly next door, a residence also funded by the Syrian Women's Association, another large group of injured Syrian refugees are awaiting medical treatment. Men speak of how they were attacked during anti-goverment protests months ago and why treatment for their injuries have still not been adequately cared for by the Jordanian services. One man is on a pair of crutches after being stabbed in the arm and stomach by government authorities in a village outside of Damascus more than three months ago. Another 16-year-old beside him tells why he has lost the use of his left arm completely, due to the failure to obtain proper treatment. Without much faith that they will receive any treatment in Jordan, they are on both on the waiting list for surgery in other countries, such as Germany and Egypt.

Syrian refugees in Amman. Photo by EskewMe, used with permission.

In this video produced by Melissa Tabeek (MelissaMary52), Syrian refugee children tell their stories:

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

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