Refugees or Citizens First? Moral Dilemma As Jordan Closes Syrian Border

Published June 27th, 2018 - 10:16 GMT
Jordan had received more than 660,000 registered Syrian refugee since 2011, and officials said the actual number is the double. (AFP/ File Photo)
Jordan had received more than 660,000 registered Syrian refugee since 2011, and officials said the actual number is the double. (AFP/ File Photo)

Civilian Syrians are facing an intensified assault in the southern city of Daraa by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. Thousands of families have fled their homes to the border with neighboring Jordan in the past few hours, as Jordan announces it is closing its borders and cannot sustain any more refugees.

On Tuesday, Jordan’s Prime Minister-designate Omar Razzaz announced his country will no longer be able to take any more Syrian refugees as the country is beyond capacity, and therefore the borders are to be closed.

Jordan has welcomed more than 660,000 registered Syrian refugee since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011. The Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, confirmed there are no displaced Syrians on the borders, however, Jordan will do whatever can be done to help their afflicted neighbours.

Giving grounds for the decision, Safadi and Razzaz confirmed Jordan’s insistence on a political solution to the crisis in Syria to halt the bloodshed and help displaced Syrians inside and outside their country. Additionally, Jordan is thought to be pressuring the international community into taking a serious action to stop killing civilians in Syria.

Meanwhile, Israeli media reported that Syrian civilians have begun to flee to the border with Israel with intensified bombing in Daraa, although Israel has never taken in Syrian refugees except, temporarily to provide medical treatment.

Mixed reactions were prompted among Jordanians as well as Syrians by the decision. Some supported the PM attributing it to the economic crisis faced by Jordan without receiving any help from the international community.

Other Jordanians condemned the unjust decision against their Syrian neighbours who are being killed and displaced violently, saying the decision’s price will be only paid by civilian Syrians and their families.

Many others expressed their feeling of shame toward such decision taken by their government, especially as it was announced in a sensitive time, during intensiying bombardment in Daraa which leave civilians with no choice except fleeing homes to the nearest and safest border with Jordan.

Some people went on to question the contradiction in such decision and previous remarks on Jordan’s commitment toward the refugees. The latest was a tweet by the Jordanian Queen, Rania Al Abdullah, on the world refugee day in which she called for global response toward refugee crisis around the world.

Jordan finds itself in a delicate situation, caught between the demands of its domestic population and the moral dimension created by the refugees of a war on its doorstep.

Some even wondered if the decision came as a result of the latest meetings conducted between King Abdullah II and global leaders, including US President, German Chancellor and others.

The borders-closing decision puts the Jordanian government in a difficult spot as Jordanians are giving the government 100-day-notice to fulfill their demands on the latest economic crisis that included public debt challenges, revenues, grants and other matters.

The government of Razzaz  was appointed by King Abdullah II after 7-day protests rocked Jordan in June 2018 replacing former-government of Hani Mulki who imposed an increase in prices of fuel, electricity and a new income tax bill intended to reduce the country’s financial deficits and debts.


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