Obama announces big aid package for Jordan to cope with Syrian refugees
US President Barack Obama (L) speaks near Jordan's King Abdullah II during a joint press conference following a meeting at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman on March 22, 2013. Obama arrived in Jordan to face scrutiny over his Syria strategy, on the last leg of a Middle East tour after visits to Israel and the Palestinian territories. (AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN)
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U.S. President Barack Obama announced in Amman on Friday an aid package of $200 million for Jordan to help the kingdom cope with the influx of refugees fleeing the deadly violence in Syria.
Obama told a joint news conference with King Abdullah II that he would ask the U.S. Congress to provide the funds as “budget support” to aid Jordan in providing for the refugees, who the monarch said now numbered more than 460,000.
Asked by Al Arabiya’s correspondent on how long Jordan expected to keep its borders open to the Syrian refugees, King Abdullah said that it was a humanitarian issue.
“How are you going to turn back women and children and the wounded? This is something that we just can’t do. It’s not the Jordanian way. We have historically open our arms to many of our neighbors through many decades of Jordan’s history” said the King.
The United States is already the largest single donor of humanitarian aid for the Syrian people.
Obama said Friday that the extra money, if approved by Congress, will help provide more humanitarian assistance and basic services.
“The problem is that the burden it is having on Jordan. We tried to quantify as much as possible. In the latest figures it is going to cost us $550 million a year if those figures double like we think they will by the end of the year. Then obviously, we are talking a billion plus” the Jordanian King told Al Arabiya.
At least 120,000 Syrian refugees are in the sprawling northern border camp of Zaatari alone and Jordan has repeatedly complained that the growing numbers of Syrians, expected to reach 700,000 this year, is draining its already limited resources.
“Not only is that a problem, this is going to be a tremendous strain on the infrastructure” said the King.
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