International community asks Jordan to open borders after attack, Kingdom says “not our problem”
Syrians cross over the berm on their way to Jordan earlier this year (AFP)
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Human Rights organisation Amnesty International called on Jordan to reopen its borders to Syrian refugees today, after passage was closed in the wake of a cross-border attack.
But the response of the Kingdom took a strident line in its rejection of the calls. The 60,000 strong settlement at the northern border, Media Minister al Momani has said, is not a Jordanian but an international problem.
In a statement to the national Al Rai newspaper, Momani stressed that the Jordanian government would cooperate with international organisations in their bid to help those stuck at the border. But he stressed that it is up to the international community to support the asylum seekrs living there.
The camp on Jordan’s northeast border with Syria, near Ruqban, has become the site of a slow burning crisis in the last year. Tens of thousands of Syrians have massed at the border, awaiting entry into Jordan in harsh and dangerous conditions, with far from adequate access to aid.
The border camp, cut off from Jordan by a crude earthen berm, has reportedly become a lawless territory where criminals, gangs and brewing terror threats are the rule of the day. Jordanian officials took the border attack as proof that Da’esh operatives are functioning in the camp.
The area surrounding the border is now a closed military zone, and Jordan has announced that no refugee camps will be extended in the country, as well as restricting humanitarian access to the camp at Ruqban.
Although international organisations stress the importance of protecting Jordanian security, they say the Kingdom has a duty to welcome refugees into its territory. Human Rights Watch has also argued that the refugees trapped at the border may be within Jordanian territory, as the exact location of the border is complicated by the existence of the berm itself.
“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,” Amnesty said in its statement. “Denying them entry into Jordan amounts to a violation of international law.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah pledged that the country would strike back at terrorists with an “iron first” following the attacks this week.
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