Published — Friday 25 January 2013
Last update 25 January 2013 1:17 am
AMMAN: Jordan has launched an urgent aid appeal to cope with a refugee crisis after an estimated 20,000 Syrians crossed over into the country over the past week.
Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said yesterday that his country had called for urgent support from international donors to help it deal with an “unprecedented” number of Syrian refugees.
“What we have seen in terms of influx of Syrian refugees coming to Jordan is ... unprecedented, larger than any other
time in the last two years... we have had 20,000 Syrians coming into Jordan since last Thursday.” Judeh told the Reuters news agency. A record 6,000 Syrians crossed into Jordan on Tuesday alone and the influx has pushed Jordan’s lone Syrian refugee camp well beyond its 60,000-person capacity. Jordanian officials say they need urgent funds to build two further camps to host an additional 50,000 refugees. Earlier this month, Jordan said it hosted 285,000 Syrian refugees, more than half of those displaced by the conflict since March 2011.
The UNHCR says that over 26,500 refugees had crossed into Jordan since the beginning of the year, with at least 10,500 new arrivals in the the past 5 days alone.
Despite pledging to maintain an open border policy, Jordan has indicated in recent weeks that it will close the frontier should Syria tip into “chaos.”
Government spokesman Samih Maaytah said Jordan was to keep the borders open despite the dramatic influx. He added that closing the border would be a “last resort.” Jordan has said the rapidly growing refugee population cost the country some $600 million in 2012 — a figure forecast to reach $800 million in 2013 should the crisis persist.