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Syrian war refugees still flooding into Jordan: U.N.

  • A general view shows Syrian refugees at the Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp, east of Zarqa, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, July 1, 2014. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

AMMAN: The United Nations said Thursday it sees no letup in refugees fleeing war-ravaged Syria for neighboring Jordan, and appealed for funds to help the kingdom cope with the influx.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said that it expected the number of Syrian refugees in Jordan to increase by as much as 33 percent to up to 800,000 by the end of this year.

The agency said Jordan was in desperate need of $2.6 billion to care for the refugees.

“We expect that the number of [Syrian] refugees will continue to increase to some 700,000-800,000 by the end of this year,” said Andrew Harper, representative of the UNHCR in Jordan. “There is a regional response plan and national response plan, in which many aspects are still being finalized ... basically $1 billion for the refugees and $1.6 billion for supporting Jordan’s hosting community.”

The UNHCR had so far received $400 million for the more than 600,000 Syrian refugees that Jordan is already hosting.

“We need generous and real support which is not measured in the short term ... but which goes on for many years to come because the situation in Syria and Iraq is catastrophic,” Harper said.

The Syrian war has caused the worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide of the mid-1990s, with half the population having fled their homes, including nearly three million people mainly sheltering in neighboring countries.

In December, the U.N. appealed for around $6.5 billion for victims of Syria’s war, and $2.3 billion was pledged at a Kuwait donors’ conference in January.

But United Nations officials have said their 2014 plan is only 25 percent funded.

“We are underfunded and we are afraid that ... the quality of services we are providing for both Jordanian citizens and Syrian refugees ... are witnessing deterioration actually,” Jordan’s Planning Minister Ibrahim Saif said.

“If the international community wants Jordan to continue its current policies to help the refugees, it needs to provide aid to the kingdom,” he told a joint news conference with Harper.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 04, 2014, on page 8.
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