Jordan says unable to host new wave of Syria refugees

A displaced Syrian girl from the Daraa province fleeing shellings by pro-government forces carries a toddler in a makeshift camp in the province of Quneitra, southwestern Syria, near the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, on June 22, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 24 June 2018
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Jordan says unable to host new wave of Syria refugees

  • Amman says it has spent more than $10 billion (8.5 billion euros) hosting Syrian refugees
  • Some 650,000 Syrian refugees have registered with the United Nations in Jordan

AMMAN: Jordan said Sunday it would be unable to host a new wave of Syrian refugees, as troops loyal to Damascus prepare an offensive for the war-torn country’s rebel-held south.
“The large number of Syrians we’re hosting in terms of financial resources and infrastructure does not allow for the reception of a new wave of asylum seekers,” Jumana Ghanimat, minister of state for media affairs, told AFP.
Some 650,000 Syrian refugees have registered with the United Nations in Jordan since fleeing their country’s seven-year war which was sparked by peaceful anti-government protests in 2011.
Amman estimates the actual number is closer to 1.3 million people and says it has spent more than $10 billion (8.5 billion euros) hosting them.
“Jordan has not and will not abandon its humanitarian role and its commitment to international charters, but it has exceeded its ability to absorb (more refugees),” said Ghanimat, who also serves as a spokeswoman for the government.
“Everyone should cooperate to deal with any new wave of displacement within Syria’s borders,” she said, adding Jordan would work with “concerned organizations” to find an arrangement for the displaced inside Syria.
Her comments came as Syrian government forces ready an offensive to retake the southern provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and parts of Sweida, still mostly held by rebels.
Southern Syria is a strategically vital zone: it borders both Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and also lies close to Damascus.
After neutralising rebel strongholds on the edge of the capital earlier this year, President Bashar Assad is now turning his attention to the south.
In recent weeks regime forces have dropped leaflets over Daraa and Quneitra, warning of impending military operations and calling on the rebels to surrender.
“Jordan is in close contact with Washington and Moscow to maintain an agreement to reduce the escalation in southern Syrian,” Ghoneim said.
She said the kingdom was “following the current developments in southern Syrian to reach a formula that protects Jordanian interests along the border and the waves of asylum seekers.”
The UN on Thursday warned escalation in Syria’s south could have dangerous repercussions for the estimated 750,000 civilians in the rebel-held area.


UN chief urges Israel, Palestinians to avoid ‘devastating conflict’

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. (REUTERS)
Updated 53 min 58 sec ago
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UN chief urges Israel, Palestinians to avoid ‘devastating conflict’

  • More than 130 Palestinians have died so far during violent protests
  • Diplomats at the UN said there had not yet been a call for an urgent Security Council meeting to find ways to lower tensions

UNITED NATIONS, United States: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Saturday on Israelis and Palestinians to avoid “another devastating conflict” after resurgent violence claimed five lives on Friday.
“I am gravely concerned over the dangerous escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel,” he said in a statement. “It is imperative that all sides urgently step back from the brink of another devastating conflict.”
The recent violence in Gaza marks the most serious escalation between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 war.
Four Palestinians and an Israeli soldier died in clashes Friday. More than 130 Palestinians have died so far during violent protests, and the Red Cross says more than 13,000 have been wounded.
“I call on Hamas and other Palestinian militants to cease the launching of rockets and incendiary kites and provocations” along the fence separating Israel from Gaza, Guterres said.
“And Israel must exercise restraint to avoid further inflaming the situation.”
He encouraged all parties to work with the UN to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, saying that it endangered lives on both sides while aggravating the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.
Diplomats at the UN said there had not yet been a call for an urgent Security Council meeting to find ways to lower tensions. A regular monthly meeting on the Middle East is on the council’s agenda for Tuesday.
A cease-fire with Israel, announced by Hamas, was generally being respected on Saturday. Egypt had brokered a cease-fire a week earlier.