Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour warned Saturday that it will be “very, very difficult” to continue accepting Syrian refugees without significant foreign aid and easier access to European markets for Jordan, Associated Press reported.
Ensour spoke of refugee admissions and aid during a visit to Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp. He mentioned next week’s Syria conference where some $9 billion in pledges are being sought to alleviate the fallout from the five-year-old conflict.
The war in Syria has forced millions of Syrians from their homes, including about 4 million who have fled Syria in search of refuge. The vast majority live in overburdened regional host countries, including Jordan, which has absorbed about 630,000 refugees according to the UN.
Deteriorating economic and security situations in the host countries have prompted many to embark on a risky journey to Europe.
Syrians are not currently allowed to work legally in host countries like Jordan and Lebanon, which face high domestic unemployment. Ensour warned of possible changes in Jordan’s refugee policy without international support.
“We have opened our borders,” he said. “We will continue to do so provided that others come and help up help the Syrians … I don’t mean just sending cash or grants. I want them to help the economy at large, that’s to say help the budget, help export … our products because if these people (Syrians) have to join the industry, then the industry has to sell elsewhere.”
Without such support, “then it would be very, very difficult for us to continue the way that we did in the past,” he added.
Jordan has already tightened restrictions on who it allows to cross the border from Syria. About 17,000 Syrians are currently stranded in a remote desert area on the Jordanian border, many of whom have waited months to be allowed to enter. Jordan only allows about 50 Syrians in per day, citing the need for stringent security.
International aid agencies have urged Jordan to speed up its security process and allow refugees to move into the Azraq camp, which is largely empty.