UN And Jordan Near Deal On Stranded Syrian Refugees

Agencies (Qasioun) – Jordanian officials said on Tuesday that the UN and Jordan are closing in on a deal to provide aid to more than 75,000 Syrian refugees stuck in open desert in a remote part of the Syrian-Jordanian border.


The refugees, in camps at Rukban and Hadalat in Jordan’s eastern panhandle, have not received any food or medical aid other than water for more than seven weeks, the last time Jordan’s military, which controls the area, allowed humanitarian agencies into the area.


The government says the Syrians, who are mostly from northern and eastern Syria — including areas controlled by Isis — pose a security threat. The refugees, who fled the five-year war in their country, are mostly camped in a no man’s land between two earthen berms that mark the border. Amman has been calling on the international community to help devise and pay for a solution to what they see as a global problem.


Aid officials told the Financial Times that a plan is now being discussed by UN and Jordanian officials that would see aid distributions resume a few kilometres west of the main encampment at Rukban.


“We need to recognise that this population is in a dire situation,” said Mageed Yahia, country director in Jordan for the UN World Food Programme. “There is a lot of disease spreading; old people, children, pregnant women — and there is nothing, no medical aid, absolutely nothing.”


A government official confirmed Amman was in talks on “new logistical arrangements through which aid and water can reach the stranded Syrians a couple of kilometres inside Syria”.


“There will be distribution points inside Syria, in which community leaders can receive aid and distribute it,” he said.


The Jordanian office of UNHCR, the main UN agency responsible for refugees, declined to comment.


Jordan declared the area a closed military zone in June after a suicide bomber drove a car from the encampment at Rukban and rammed it into an army post, killing six people and wounding 14 others.


Source: Financial Times