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Syrian offensive leaves thousands stranded on Jordan's closed border



Thousands of families fleeing a Syrian government offensive in the southern city of Dara & # 39; a stranded on the Jordanian border on Saturday were unable to return home or escape the violence because passages to the neighboring country were closed had been.

According to relief organizations and activists in the area, the situation worsened in several places along the border without protection, running water or sanitary facilities. Humanitarian organizations have urged Jordan to open the border with Syrian refugees Violence

The new offensive by Syrian government forces aims to regain control of one of the country's last rebel areas. It has expelled thousands from the city, which is only a few miles from a border crossing into Jordan. But Jordan closed its border with Syria two years ago after a car bomb killed seven Jordanian border guards in June 2016.

Jordan and Syria's other neighbors, Lebanon and Turkey, have been carrying the brunt of the exodus of millions of refugees who have fled across the borders during the last seven years of the war. The conflict has displaced nearly 12 million people, more than half of the Syrian population.

Host countries have long struggled with the physical and economic burdens of supplying the needy.

Jordan now houses more than 660,000 Syrians who are officially registered as refugees by the UN Refugee Agency . But Jordanian officials say that the true number is much higher because there are hundreds of thousands more that are not registered.

The Jordanian Prime Minister's office said on Saturday that the armed forces would provide humanitarian aid to the Syrians side of the border, but there was no indication that the border would open.

Without access to the families gathered at the border, it is impossible to determine the scale of the need, said Karl Schembri, the Middle East spokesman for the Norwegian Refugee Council.

"The situation is really grim, and we know there are more people on the way," said Mr Schembri, who is based in Amman, Jordan. "And we do not know how close the battles will get to them."

Shot on social media by local activists in Dara & # 39; a, crowds gather at the border and sing "Jordan open the border" As military vehicles patrol the background.

Local activists said at least five children died last week after being stung by scorpions and lacking access to medical care

The Union of Aid and Charitable Agencies, a medical welfare and advocacy group which operates in Dara & # 39; a, estimated on Saturday that 217,000 people have been expelled from Dara & a; and no less than 75,000 have gathered at the border with Jordan.

The United Nations gave a lower estimate on Friday, saying that around 160,000 had been displaced the previous fighting and those still in the area were desperate.

"The humanitarian situation here is very difficult, it's terrible," said Baha Mahameed, a medical doctor in West Daraa. "The borders are still closed." This is madness.

Late on Friday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for an end to the Syrian government's offensive, saying that this would mean a devastating toll on the civilian population.

Inhabitants of Jordan have also begun to put pressure on their government to open the border with Syria. On Saturday, the Arabic phrase "Open the border" tended on Twitter.

And Jordanian news channels shared videos reported to have been taken in the border town of Ramtha, showing the residents how to collect food and water for the Syrian refugees.

Ayman Safadi, Jordanian Foreign Minister, met with Mr Guterres on Friday to discuss the situation on the Syrian border. After the meeting, Safadi said the focus should be on protecting the Syrians in their own country.

"Before we talk about expelling the Syrians from their country, we need to talk about protecting the Syrians there," Safadi said after the meeting to his official Twitter account . "We need to talk about creating international mechanisms to secure protection and help the Syrians on their land."

Mr. Safadi also noted that Jordan, like many of the countries bordering Syria, has already received many Syrian millions of refugees. He pointed out that the priority would be to help the warring parties reach a ceasefire agreement.

"We have opened our hearts to our Syrian brothers, our homes and our schools, and we continue to do everything we can," Safadi said.

He called on the international community to call on Jordan to help displaced persons.

"Jordan can not afford the consequences of the crisis, which is a responsibility of the international community."


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