Residents in northern Jordan angry about shells falling from battles in nearby Syria

Published February 18th, 2016 - 12:00 GMT
The Syrian town of Deraa, which has seen intensified shelling and aerial bombardment, is just a few kilometers away from Jordan's border town of Ramtha. (AFP/File)
The Syrian town of Deraa, which has seen intensified shelling and aerial bombardment, is just a few kilometers away from Jordan's border town of Ramtha. (AFP/File)

Two stray mortar shells from war-torn Syria fell on Wednesday on the border city of Ramtha, with no injuries reported, according to a local source. 

"The shells fell on farming areas. The situation is largely normal and the community here has become familiar with stray bombshells from the Syrian side," Ramtha District Governor Badr Qadi told The Jordan Times on Wednesday, noting that the rest of Wednesday "went by trouble-free".

"Life is normal today. I just came back from the location of where the shells fell and everything is under control," he noted.

On Monday, a stray shell fell in Turrah area in Ramtha, injuring one of the residents. 

Following the incident, Ramtha residents took to social media websites to complain over the "panic" they have been experiencing, especially lately, due to what they described as "escalating horror on the other side."

The administrator of the Ramtha Facebook page, which is followed by over 15,000 people, complained on Wednesday over the government's "silence" over what is happening in the district, located nearly 90km from Amman on the border with Syria's Daraa.

"There is a daily fall of stray shells on Ramtha that is causing panic to over 250,000 residents and no one is caring about us," the activist said. 

Mohammad Darabseh noted that the government placed sirens in Amman to warn people during bad weather conditions, but "lent a deaf ear to the mortars that bombard Ramtha every day". 

"What are the officials counting on? Will they remain silent until our children are killed?" Ahmad Zubi asked. 

Residents have told The Jordan Times this week that several families living on the northern edge of Ramtha have relocated for safety.

In June last year, one person was killed and four others injured after “a stray bombshell” from Daraa hit a Ramtha house.
Residents of the border town said they have had “sleepless nights” over the past few days due to the proximity of the intense clashes between the Syrian army and the armed opposition near the border.

Meanwhile, Director of the King Abdullah I University Hospital Ibrahim Bani Hani on Tuesday announced that he had received official instructions to treat any patient injured by stray shells from the Syrian side free of charge.

In a statement issued by UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan Edward Kallon, he pointed out that over the last three months, an intensification of shelling and aerial bombardment in southern Syria has led to massive displacement of civilians. 

“An estimated 70,000 civilians have fled their homes, many of whom have been displaced for a second or third time in their search for safety. Nearly 50,000 of these people remain displaced in harsh winter conditions.”  

“Basic services have been suspended due to aerial shelling and over five health facilities have been struck and damaged in the past months rendering them fully or partially inoperable,” he said.  

To meet the priority needs of these people who have been displaced, the United Nations and its partners have increased the delivery of humanitarian assistance through the Ramtha border. Delivery of aid to desperately vulnerable Syrians in southern Syria is only possible with the facilitation and unprecedented cooperation and support of the Jordanian authorities, in compliance with Security Council Resolutions 2165, 2191 and 2258, according to the statement. 

By Laila Azzeh

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