Jordan’s PM visits border shut to displaced Syrians
JABIR AS SIRHAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan’s prime minister visited a key crossing with Syria on Sunday, inspecting aid deliveries by the Jordanian army to the tens of thousands of displaced Syrians gathering at the border Amman has kept sealed.
Jordanian army trucks streamed slowly to the Jabir border crossing in northern Jordan, carrying tents and medical supplies. Two ambulances carrying injured Syrians crossed into Jordan.
Tens of thousands of Syrians are stranded at the border with Jordan as Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, stepped up their offensive to retake the southern city of Daraa, one of the last rebel-held areas in Syria.
Jumana Ghunaimat, spokeswoman for Jordan’s government, briefed reporters after the prime minister’s visit, defending Jordan’s position not to open the border to the fleeing refugees.
“Jordan has priorities ... its security and safety in the first place and secondly easing its economic crisis,” she told the reporters.
Referring to extremists that could potentially be among the displaced, she added: “Jordan cannot take that risk and allow the refugees in.”
She called for creating safe zones inside Syria and increasing aid and medical supplies to the country while trying to broker truces with the warring sides there.
Aid and rights groups have warned of a looming humanitarian crisis at the border as the displaced, with inadequate shelter and supplies, are unable to enter Jordan or return to Daraa.
Later Sunday, Prime Minister Omar Razzaz took to Twitter to announce the formation of “a national campaign to relieve the Syrian brothers inside their home” through a Jordanian charity.
Clans in northern Jordan on Sunday gathered food, water, milk, clothes and camping gear to help their Syrian neighbors.
“We help them this way better than opening the border because our country cannot endure (more refugees) and the international community failed us” said Kamal al-Sirhan, an area resident who drummed up support from locals.
“We give the aid to the army and it ensures its delivery because this is better to prevent infiltration (of militants),” al-Sirhan added.
At a mosque in Jabir village, local residents stacked blankets, clothes and food to hand over to the army for delivery.
“We received so many refugees and helped them and we will continue helping them with everything we have,” said resident Awad al-Sirhan.