Jordan: Syrian Refugees Are 10 Percent of Our Population

King Abdullah II tells the U.N. General Assembly that his country can’t carry the weight of thousands of refugees on its own.

Jordan's King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013 at U.N. headquarters.
National Journal
Marina Koren
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Marina Koren
Sept. 24, 2013, 10:33 a.m.

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.”

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