Defiant Jordan keeps border closed to Syrian refugees

Special Defiant Jordan keeps border closed to Syrian refugees
A Jordanian soldier keeps watch at the border between Syria and Jordan, near the town of Nasib in southern Syria, on July 2, 2018. (AFP/Mohamad ABAZEED)
Updated 04 July 2018

Defiant Jordan keeps border closed to Syrian refugees

Defiant Jordan keeps border closed to Syrian refugees
  • Around 95,000 Syrians have arrived in the border region as a result of the latest military operations
  • The United Nations said Monday the number of Syrians displaced by the onslaught had already exceeded 270,000

AMMAN: Jordan defied growing pressure on Tuesday to open its borders to nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing the Assad regime’s offensive in Daraa.

Authorities fear the presence of militant infiltrators among the displaced, they told Arab News. “The security situation is still difficult and we can’t take the risk,” government spokesperson Jumana Ghuneimat said.

Military equipment belonging to Daesh had been seen on the Syrian side of the border, she said. “We continue to insist on our previous conditions that no armed militias should be anywhere near our border with Syria.”

The Syrian regime backed by Russian airpower launched an offensive on June 19 to recapture the southern Daraa region along the Jordan border.

The UN said 270,000 Syrians had been displaced by the onslaught, and Jordan estimates that 95,000 have sought shelter along the border.

“We call on the Jordanian government to keep its border open and for other countries in the region to step up and receive the fleeing civilians,” UN human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell said.

Jordan insists it is doing its humanitarian duty. The northern military region commander, Gen. Khaled Al-Massaid, said 86 trucks had crossed the frontier in the past three days to deliver food and water to the displaced.

Jordan’s army has also been distributing humanitarian aid and providing medical treatment at three points along the border, he said.

The Jordanian military has set up a 20-bed field hospital on the Jordanian side to take injured people, Ghuneimat said. “During the past few days Jordan has admitted 16 medical cases to local hospitals in the Ramtha area and four cases were transferred to major hospitals in Amman.”

Oraib Rantawi, head of Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, told Arab News: “No country in the world can teach Jordan about ethics and the need to respect immigrants.” Western European countries were playing with the lives of migrants and in the US the government was separating families from their children, Rantawi said. “With such a low moral attitude the position of Jordan … is a model to be emulated.”

Jordan is also pursuing a political solution, and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi is in Moscow for talks with Russian officials.