UN fears for thousands trapped on Syria-Jordan border

UN fears for thousands trapped on Syria-Jordan border

Airstrikes causing fear and panic are also a danger to almost 50,000 in the Hadalat and Rukban refugee camps

Rukban refugee camp on the Jordan-Syria border. (Screen capture: YouTube/BBC)
Rukban refugee camp on the Jordan-Syria border. (Screen capture: YouTube/BBC)

AMMAN, Jordan — United Nations agencies have expressed “deep concern” for the safety and security of nearly 50,000 Syrians stranded in the desert near their war-wracked country’s southern border with Jordan.

A statement issued on Sunday in Amman said an estimated 4,000 people at Hadalat and 45,000 mostly women and children at Rukban were stuck on the frontier.

A suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group in June last year killed seven Jordanian soldiers in no-man’s land near the Rukban border crossing.

Soon afterwards, the army declared Jordan’s desert regions that stretch northeast to Syria and east to Iraq “closed military zones.”

Jordan is part of the US-led coalition fighting IS.

“Airstrikes have been reported in the area in the last few days, causing serious distress and panic among the population fearing for their lives with the heightened risk of escalated hostilities,” Sunday’s statement said.

It said that although no casualties have yet been reported among the stranded Syrians, “the area is increasingly unsafe,” prompting some people to leave the area.

This exposed them to “further danger and deprivation in an inhospitable desert location, unsure of where to go in search of safety.”

The UN said the most vulnerable, mostly women and children, were unable to return home because of the war in Syria.

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria and millions displaced since the country’s conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Jordan shares a desert border of more than 370 kilometers (230 miles) with Syria.

The UN refugee agency says it has registered more than 650,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan since the conflict began. Amman says it is hosting 1.3 million Syrian refugees.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more: