Fresh Syria violence sparks ‘refugee exodus’ into Jordan

In this Monday, November 5 file photo, a Syrian girl who fled with her family from the violence in their village, rests at a displaced camp, in the Syrian village of Atmeh, near the Turkish border with Syria (AP photo)

by Taylor Luck, Jordan Times

AMMAN — An upswing in violence in Syria has triggered a fresh refugee exodus into Jordan, relief officials warn, with 1,000 crossings reported in a single night.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Jordan witnessed a surge in Syrian refugees over the weekend, including the crossing of 1,000 Syrians on Friday, the highest single number of new arrivals in over two months.

With the spike in new arrivals, there was a rise in reported injuries, with security officials confirming that Jordanian authorities transferred 30 Syrians to hospitals in the northern cities of Mafraq and Irbid between Thursday and Friday for “emergency treatment”.

According to sources, the bulk of the injured Syrians, who reportedly suffered gunshot wounds and burns on their crossing into Jordan, are listed in serious condition.

The influx comes amid intensified fighting in southern Syria, which rebel forces claim are driving thousands of civilians from their homes and to the border region.

“The regime is using MiG-21 jets and dropping rocket after rocket on every building in southern Syria,” said Abu Hani, a Free Syrian Army officer stationed in the border region.

“Right now there is nowhere people can turn to but Jordan.”

Activists claim Damascus’ intensified military operations in the southern region is “flushing out” some 10,000 displaced Syrians in southern Syria who had already fled violence in their hometowns and villages in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus.

Despite an ongoing military blockade that has cut off traditional smuggling routes, rebel forces have vowed to continue to facilitate mass crossings into Jordan in order to avert a “humanitarian crisis”.

“One in every three crossings is likely to get hit by missiles or gunfire,” said Abu Hani.

“But right now the odds of surviving the journey to Jordan are better than surviving in Syria.”

Jordan follows an open-border policy, having granted refuge to some 236,000 Syrians since the onset of the crisis in March 2011.

Over 42,000 currently reside in the country’s lone refugee camp in the border area of Zaatari, with authorities racing to open a second camp in order to meet the rising influx by the end of the month.

Categories: Arab World, Asia, Jordan, Syria

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