Earlier this month, the number of Syrians that have fled the country since the start of its civil war surpassed 2 million. About 515,000 of them sought shelter in neighboring Jordan. The refugees amount to 10 percent of the kingdom's population.
As the Syrian conflict continues, refugees could total 20 percent of Jordan's population by next year, said Jordanian King Abdullah II when he spoke before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday afternoon. Jordan, he said, is running out of resources for them.
"These are not just numbers; they are people who need food, water, shelter, sanitation, electricity, health care, and more," he said. "Not even the strongest global economies could absorb this demand on infrastructure and resources, let alone a small economy and the fourth water-poorest country in the world."
The king thanked the U.N. and regional and international donors for their help, but asked for more assistance from world powers, calling the Syrian crisis a "global humanitarian and security disaster" and declaring, "I say here and now that my people cannot be asked to shoulder the burden of what is a regional and global challenge."
In his speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday morning, President Obama pledged to provide an additional $339 million in humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugee crisis, with more than $48 million allocated for Jordan. This brings the total U.S. contribution since the Syrian civil war began in 2011 to more than $1.3 billion.
Paul Stromberg, head of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees operations in Jordan, told Stars and Stripes on Sunday, "If we have an influx of, say, 50,000 people right now, that would basically wipe [us] out. It would be catastrophic from a budget perspective."