Over the past year, the Syrian civil war has echoed across the shores of Europe, as an unprecedented number of refugees, mostly Syrians, have made their way across the Mediterranean Sea in search of safety and a better life. But with their attention focused on Europe, news outlets have rarely mentioned the other countries where Syrian refugees have fled, in even greater numbers.
In Jordan, an influx of refugees, since 2011, has brought political, economic, and resource challenges that could lead to political instability, if unaddressed. In an article for The Huffington Post, independent, Jordanian journalist Rana Sweis describes the situation on Jordan’s northeastern border, an area vulnerable to smugglers, drug dealers, and traders, where more than 50,000 people live in “a massive unmonitored refugee camp” with limited assistance from the international community.
Having covered the refugee flow into Jordan since March 2011, Sweis urges the Jordanian government and aid agencies to speak publicly about the emergency situation and calls on the international community to increase its aid to Jordan:
Recent polls in Jordan reveal worsening public attitudes toward refugees, yet many Jordanians know that Syrians are likely here to stay. In fact, only 2 percent of Syrian refugees in Jordan left for Europe and nearly one-third of Syrians residing here plan to stay for good, according to a study on the economic and social integration of refugees. The trip to Europe is treacherous and costly but as desperation grows and the summer months loom ahead, it is yet unknown whether more refugees, despite the tightening of borders, will attempt to make the journey. The Syrian refugee tragedy is a global humanitarian and security crisis and unless Europe steps up to help Jordan take immediate steps to try to improve the health care and security at the berm, it will mean more injuries and deaths. It means riots and security deterioration at the defacto camp that will in turn endanger women and children but also cause more border security concerns for Jordan. Other concerns include human trafficking and exploitation.
Despite the alarming numbers at the berm, aid agencies and the government are wary of speaking publicly about the refugee situation on the border. This should not be the case.
In the immediate future, Germany and the international community must dispatch helicopters to aid refugee registration, increase medical aid and help the Jordanian government maintain both border security and increase security at the berm. Jordan should speak more publicly about what is taking place at the berm and the challenges it is facing on the border. In the long run, however, the absence of a political solution to address the root cause of the humanitarian crisis will mean more complex emergencies like the one growing on Jordan’s border. It will also mean more threats to Europe and more parents seeking a haven and a future for their children.
Read the full article here.