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.


EU ‘considering sanctions on Iran’

An Iranian diplomat was arrested in July along with two people accused of plotting to blow up a rally of opposition activists. (File/AFP)
Updated 26 min 50 sec ago
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EU ‘considering sanctions on Iran’

  • The ministers said technical work could now start on an EU-wide asset freeze on two Iranians and the Iranian intelligence service
  • In March, Britain, France and Germany proposed to sanction Iran over its development of ballistic missiles and its role in Syria’s war

BRUSSELS: EU foreign ministers have endorsed a French government decision to sanction Iranian nationals accused of a bomb plot in France, potentially allowing the measures to take effect across the bloc, three diplomats said.

The ministers said technical work could now start on an EU-wide asset freeze on two Iranians and the Iranian intelligence service over a failed plot to carry out a bomb attack at a rally near Paris organized by an exiled Iranian opposition group.

Denmark, which in October said it suspected an Iranian government intelligence service had tried to carry out an assassination plot on its soil, also pushed for support for similar EU-wide sanctions once its investigation is complete, the diplomats told Reuters.

Though largely symbolic, the EU’s readiness to target Iranians marks a shift after months of division within the bloc over how to punish Iranians accused of destabilizing activities in Europe and the Middle East.

In an effort to balance their Iran policy, ministers also discussed setting up a special mechanism to trade with Iran that would be under EU, not national, law. They believe this formula could shield individual member states from being hit by US sanctions that have been reimposed on trade with Iran after Washington’s pullout from the nuclear deal.

In March, Britain, France and Germany proposed to sanction Iran over its development of ballistic missiles and its role in Syria’s war, but the initiative failed to gather sufficient support across the EU to take effect.

The EU move came as British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt visited Iran on Monday for talks about the conflict in Yemen and freeing UK nationals held in Iranian jails.

Hunt met his counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, and they discussed plans to keep trade flowing in spite of renewed US sanctions, according to Iranian media.

But Hunt was particularly focused on the conflict in Yemen, where Iran is accused of supplying weapons to Houthi militias.