Jordan says hosting Syrian refugees has cost $10 billion

Girls carry containers for food rations on Tuesday at a refugee camp in Ain Issa, Syria. (Reuters)
Updated 10 October 2017

Jordan says hosting Syrian refugees has cost $10 billion

AMMAN: Authorities in Jordan on Tuesday estimated at more than $10 billion the cost of hosting thousands of refugees displaced from Syria since the civil war broke out there in 2011.
The UN says that some 650,000 Syrian refugees are currently being housed in Jordan, but the government puts the figure far higher at around 1.3 million people.
In a statement released on social media, the Foreign Ministry said “more than $10.3 billion” had been spent on putting up the refugees.
That figure covered additional expenses in sectors including health, education and employment, and also extra money spent on public services and subsidized food, it said.
Jordan, which shares a 370-km border with Syria, estimates that almost $1.7 billion will be needed to cover the refugees this year.
The kingdom — which has called for the international community to do more on the crisis — has recently come under fire from Human Rights Watch for allegedly “summarily deporting” Syrian refugees.
The group said that on average some 400 refugees were being removed each month at the start of 2017 in a move that could be aimed at preventing the violence in Syria spilling over onto Jordanian territory after several armed attacks.
Authorities insisted that any return of refugees to Syria was voluntary and that they only headed to areas in the country that are considered safe.
The UN refugee agency says 93 percent of the Syrian refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line. Around 180,000 of them are housed in two sprawling camps in the desert.
Fighting in Syria has claimed more than 330,000 lives since a brutal crackdown by the army on protesters in 2011 spiraled into all-out conflict.
The UN estimates that more than 5 million Syrians have been driven from the country by fighting, with the majority settling in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Explosion hits Hezbollah building in southern Lebanon

Updated 5 min 17 sec ago

Explosion hits Hezbollah building in southern Lebanon

CAIRO: A huge explosion was heard in southern Lebanon in the village of Ain Qana, according to Lebanese broadcasters and witnesses.

The explosion occurred in an arms depot for Hezbollah in the village, one Lebanese security official in south Lebanon said, without elaborating on the cause. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
An official with the militant group Hezbollah confirmed there was an explosion but declined to give further details, according to the Associated Press. Another local Hezbollah official could not confirm any casualties and said the nature of the blast was not yet clear. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give official statements.

Members of the group imposed a security cordon around the area. Security sources said earlier there were injuries in the blast. 

Pictures from Lebanese news media showed clouds of dark smoke rose from the area. The cause of the blast about 50 km (30 miles) south of Beirut was not immediately clear.

Twitter account Intel Sky shared footage of what the explosion purportedly looks like.

The mysterious explosion comes seven weeks after the massive explosion at Beirut port, caused by the detonation of nearly 3,000 tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate. The explosion killed nearly 200 people, injured 6,500 and damaged tens of thousands of buildings in the capital, Beirut.
It is still not clear what caused the initial fire that ignited the chemicals, and so far no one has been held accountable.

(with Reuters and AP)