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Jordan warns U.N. of ‘crushing weight’ of Syria refugees

Syrian refugees watch the convoy of Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring as he visits Al Zaatri refugee camp

By AFP / 1 May 2013

Jordan on Tuesday warned the U.N. Security Council that the growing exodus of Syrian refugees was a threat to its stability and the council is now considering a visit to the camps.

Jordan faces a “crushing weight” if the refugee numbers, already over 500,000, keep growing at the current rate, said the ambassador, Prince Zeid al-Hussein, after a private meeting with Security Council envoys.

Zeid said international help had been “insufficient” and that “from the perspective of the Jordanian government unless the support is forthcoming then we consider this to be a threat to our future stability.”

Up to 2,000 Syrians are crossing the border each night and on Sunday 4,000 had fled the two-year-old conflict into Jordan, the ambassador said.

The United Nations has predicted that there could be 1.2 million refugees in Jordan by the end of the year -- equivalent to a fifth of the kingdom's population.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says there are now more than 1.4 million Syrians in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan and that the figure increases by 200,000 every month.

U.N. agencies say the Syria conflict, in which more than 70,000 people have died in the past two years, is now the biggest humanitarian crisis they face.

Diplomats told AFP after the meeting that the 15-nation council, badly divided over political efforts to end the conflict, was considering a visit to Jordan after the plea.

“On the basis of what we heard from council members we feel that there is some support for the idea. The decision will of course revert back to the council,”Zeid said.

The envoy said that the refugee exodus from Syria now needs to be treated by the U.N. as a separate crisis from the worsening civil war and that international support so far was “insufficient.”

“It leaves us very worried that we may not be able to cope if these numbers continue to increase almost, exponentially, in the next few months.”

Jordan has committed not to close its borders, but the ambassador said “we would be under a crushing weight.”

The country is already implementing an International Monetary Fund program and Zeid said “we would be placed in an impossible situation unless we have some assistance, or greater assistance from the international community.”


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