Jordan agrees one-off aid for Syrians blocked at border

13 July 2016 Wednesday

Jordan has agreed to a one-off aid delivery to more than 100,000 desperate Syrians blocked in the desert no-man’s land on its northeastern border, the United Nations said.

Jordan closed the border to both would-be refugees and aid agencies after a June 21 suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group killed seven soldiers near the makeshift desert camp.

“We have negotiated with the government for an intervention… to create packages that will include food as well as non-food items that we will get to the people at the berm” marking the frontier, the executive director of the UN’s World Food Program, Ertharin Cousin, told AFP.

“But the Jordanian government has been very clear with us it is a one-time intervention,” she added in an interview on Tuesday.

Cousin said the details of the aid delivery were still being worked out with the UN Children’s Fund and the International Organization for Migration and she could give no firm date for it.

On Tuesday, armed forces chief General Meshaal Mohamed al-Zaban reiterated at a meeting attended by the WFP director that the border would remain closed, the official Petra news agency reported.

Zaban said Jordan would “allow nobody” to cross, because the kingdom’s security was an “absolute priority.”

Jordanian officials have charged that the vast Rukban camp has become a hotbed of jihadist activity.

Cousin said she had flown over the camp by helicopter early on Tuesday.

“You are looking out of the window and it is just all desert and the sun rising and suddenly thousands of tents,” she said.

“The numbers have been estimated by our teams on the ground as high as 100,000-plus at the border on the berm.”

Aid agencies have voiced concern about the plight of the camp’s residents who had been dependent on food and water deliveries across the border before its closure.

The refugees are “enduring very harsh weather conditions, sweltering heat and frequent dust storms” and “have or are running out of food,” WFP Jordan spokeswoman Shaza Moghraby told AFP late last month.

Source: World Bulletin.


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