AMMAN — The number of Syrians in Jordan has passed 140,000, according to relief agencies, as officials scramble to expand overcrowded transit facilities.
According to interior ministry statistics quoted by the UN, over 140,000 Syrians have crossed into Jordan legally and illegally since Damascus’ launch of a military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in March 2011, a number the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says is rising by some 300 per day.
Of the total, some 26,000 have registered as refugees — a number expected to hit 30,000 by the end of the month — in yet another sign that displaced Syrians are preparing for an extended stay in the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the influx of Syrian refugees has pushed so-called transit facilities “beyond capacity”, local relief agencies say, prompting authorities to establish the fourth holding centre in less than six months.
According to Al Kitab and Sunna Society, officials are currently acquiring land in the border city of Ramtha to establish the latest transit facility — guarded housing complexes reserved for illegal arrivals — expected to consist of 200 furnished trailers designed to house up to 1,000 Syrians.
Under current interior ministry procedures, all illegal arrivals are forwarded to so-called transit facilities to undergo security background checks and whose release hinges on a financial guarantee signed by a Jordanian national.
The ongoing influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan comes amid accusations by Syrian opposition groups that Amman has closed the northern borders and has started to turn back refugees, a claim the government denies.
Earlier this month authorities tightened entry restrictions for expatriate Syrians arriving at the Queen Alia International Airport from third party countries, a measure officials say aims to prevent non-vulnerable Syrians from “taking advantage” of Jordan’s hospitality.
Jordanian officials have highlighted in recent weeks the added burden the displaced community is placing on the Kingdom’s scarce resources — with the spike in water demand costing the country some $14,000 per day alone.
Despite the added burden, Amman continues to follow an open-border policy, providing displaced Syrians with refuge as well as access to public education and health services.