Jordan, Turkey, Iraq 'risk turning Syria into an open-air prison'
UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie meets a group of recently arrived refugees at the Syria/Jordan border (UNHCR / AFP)
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Syria's neighbors are have closed or tightened border restrictions, leaving tens of thousands of Syrian refugees stranded, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday.
The New York-based group said Jordan, Iraq and Turkey had all restricted the flow of Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country which has left at least 93,000 people dead and forced 1.7 million to seek refuge outside of their country.
"Iraq, Jordan, and Turkey risk turning Syria into an open-air prison for tens of thousands of Syrians unable to escape the carnage in their country," said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch, as quoted by AFP.
"Neither the pressure those countries are under due to rising refugee numbers, nor giving aid inside Syria, can justify violating people's basic right to seek asylum from persecution and other abuse."
The number of refugees entering Jordan suddenly dropped last month, from around 1500 per day to a few hundred. The Jordanian government said that the borders remained completely open but refugees and activists said thousands are stranded along the border and are being denied access.
HRW also said that Iraq has severely restricted the number of Syrians since August 2012, with new arrivals almost reduced to nothing in March this year.
Turkey is blocking thousands from crossing at the Bab al-Salam crossing and only allowing small numbers through sporadically, HRW reported.
"Syria's neighbours should stop pushing desperate people back to places where their lives are in danger," Simpson said, adding that the international community should send aid to those countries that shoulder the burden of hosting refugees.