Jordan has turned away dozens of Palestinian refugees on the Syrian border fleeing regime bombardment of the Yarmouk refugee camp south of Damascus.
Palestinian refugees living in the Yarmouk refugee camp south of Damascus have tried to enter Jordan through the Jaber border crossing after their camp was bombarded by Assad regime forces in previous weeks. They told Al-Jazeera earlier this week that while Palestinian refugees carrying Jordanian IDs were allowed to enter Jordan, children of Jordanian women who were not citizens are being refused.
Jordan has absorbed some 126,000 Syrian refugees, but Palestinians fleeing Syria are placed in a separate refugee camp at the Cyber City compound, under stricter conditions, and are banned from entering Jordanian cities. The Jordanian government fears that an influx of Palestinian refugees may tilt the demographic balance in Jordan even more towards the Palestinians, who are already believed to comprise a large majority of the population.
“Jordan is not obligated to pay a political price for the Syrian crisis,” Jordanian government spokesman Samih Maaytah told Al-Jazeera when asked why the Palestinians were not being let in.
“Jordan does not prevent the return of its citizens… but the transfer of Palestinian refugees from Syria to Jordan is a matter of tens of thousands, something Jordan cannot bear,” Maayatah added, noting that the matter of Palestinian refugees in Syria is “purely political, before discussing any humanitarian aspect.”
The Qatari channel reported the story of Amany Darwish, who upon arrival at the border on January 2 with her four young children was notified by the Jordanian authorities that she could only enter with her two younger ones, and must leave behind the two older, aged 8 and 15.
The United Nations Refugee Agency appealed to international donors in December for $1 billion in aid for Syrian refugees, estimating that it will need to assist up to 1 million refugees during the first half of 2013.
Meanwhile, Jordanian daily Al-Ghad reported on Tuesday that heavy rainfall has wreaked havoc on the Zaatari refugee camp near the Syrian border, home to some 55,000 Syrian refugees.
Muhammad Ahmad, a Syrian refugee living in Zaatari told the daily that sandstorms preceded the rain, making life in the camp “hell.”