The expensive price of humanitarianism: Jordan needs $850 million for Syrian refugees
The government on Thursday said that Jordan needs $850 million in additional international assistance should the country’s Syrian refugee community surpass one million persons as forecast by UN agencies.
In a press statement released Thursday, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani said: “We are very grateful to our friends and supporters who have provided support to help us face the Syrian refugee crisis, but the fact is that as the crisis is growing so are our needs.”
According to recent estimates, Jordan has opened its borders to more than 580,000 Syrian refugees since the conflict began in 2011 — a number UN officials expect to surpass 1.2 million by year-end.
Officials in Amman have highlighted several times over the past few weeks the increasing burden the country’s rapidly growing Syrian refugee population is placing on its scarce resources, with the influx of over 78,000 Syrian students into public schools projected to cost the country over $200 million alone.
Meanwhile, heavy shelling continued to strand thousands of displaced Syrians along the Jordanian-Syrian border on Thursday.
According to local residents and Syrian activists, heavy shelling prevented some 1,000 civilians from crossing into Jordan early Thursday as part of an ongoing bombing campaign by Damascus that has allegedly stranded over 69,000 along the Jordanian-Syrian border over the past few weeks.
Rebel officials and activists raised concern over the fate of the would-be refugees, many of whom allegedly face “starvation after spending weeks without food supplies, medical care or shelter” in the under-siege border Syrian towns and villages, according to activists.
“Tens of civilians are dying from disease and starvation each day and all we can do is watch,” said Ahmed Al Saad, an activist with the Local Coordination Committees in the border village of Tal Shihab, which has allegedly taken in over 22,000 displaced Syrians this month alone.
The rebels and activists claim that 80 displaced persons have died in the border towns of Tal Shihab, Nasib and Al Shajarah this week alone due to starvation-related health complications — warning of “thousands more”, should humanitarian aid fail to reach besieged southern Syrian towns and villages.
“Our forces cannot break through all the new military checkpoints or bombings to reach civilians and the displaced who are being starved to death,” said Abu Diyaa Al Hourani, commander of a Free Syrian Army battalion stationed outside Sheikh Maskin, which has allegedly received over 4,000 refugees and itself has been the subject of heavy fighting in recent days.
“If the international community does not open an aid corridor immediately, thousands of men, women and children will die,” he added.
Meanwhile, heavy fighting and shelling continued to close access routes into Jordan, with Jordanian security and rebel officials reporting heavy clashes in the villages of Sheikh Al Saad, Nawa and Nasib.
The heavy violence continued to restrict the refugee flow into Jordan to a steady trickle, with the Jordan Armed Forces reporting the entry of 200 Syrians early Thursday — well below a previous influx which once stood at some 2,500 new arrivals per day.
Fighting continued to inch towards the Jordanian-Syrian border Wednesday and Thursday evenings, with residents of the northern Jordanian villages of Um Al Quttein and Al Turra reporting sounds of “loud explosions and missiles” late into the night.