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Jordan says claim of 12,000 stranded Syria refugees exaggerated


Migrants begin walking towards the Austrian border in Bicske, near Budapest, Hungary, on.  PHOTO: stuff

Migrants begin walking towards the Austrian border in Bicske, near Budapest, Hungary, on.<br />PHOTO: stuff

Jordan described as exaggerated Wednesday UN claims that 12,000 Syrian refugees are stuck on the border, but acknowledged that arrivals have been slowed due to security screenings.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said Tuesday the Syrians are stranded in “deteriorating humanitarian conditions” and urged authorities to allow them into the country.

Information Minister Mohamed Momani told AFP: “The number concerning the stranded refugees is exaggerated”, but did not say what the number was.

He acknowledged delays in allowing in those fleeing Syria’s nearly five-year war, attributing them to “security” considerations.

“It is the sovereign right of the kingdom to be meticulous and to take security measures” when screening refugees arriving from Syria to ensure that no jihadists try to slip in, he said.

He insisted that the border is open and that dozens of refugees are entering the country each day.

“Jordan hosts around 1.4 million Syrian refugees and continues to observe an open-door policy along its borders and (new) refugees are welcomed each day,” he said.

In its statement, the UNHCR appealed to the government to prioritise entry for the most vulnerable, including the elderly, babies under six months of age and pregnant women.

“If refugees are not admitted to Jordan and substantial assistance not provided, the lives of refugees will be at risk in the coming winter.”

Amnesty International echoed the UNHCR appeal.

A statement said “testimony from Syrian refugees and international aid workers in Jordan… suggests that hundreds of refugees have been arriving on a daily basis in recent weeks but have been denied access to Jordan by the authorities”.

Amnesty urged Amman to take “immediate action” to assist them, saying failure to provide refugees with sanctuary could fuel a “humanitarian disaster”.

During the first two years of the Syrian conflict, 45 crossing points were open along the 378-kilometre (235 mile) border.

There are now only two open, with the UNHCR pointing out that they are located in rocky desert areas, devoid of water, shade or vegetation.

The agency says Jordan has taken in more than 630,000 refugees since the war erupted in 2011, less than half the figure cited by Amman.

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