King says Syria refugee influx depleting Jordan
Published Sunday 03/11/2013 (updated) 03/11/2013 19:29
Syrian refugees transport mattresses through the Zaatari refugee camp,
close to the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, on
Sept. 4, 2013 (AFP/File Khalil Mazraawi)
AMMAN (AFP) -- King Abdullah II said Sunday the influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees is depleting Jordan's scarce natural resources, and called for international assistance to deal with the problem.
"Jordan currently hosts around 600,000 Syrian refugees - an issue that depletes our already limited resources and puts enormous pressure on our infrastructure," the king said in a speech to parliament.
"If the international community does not move quickly to help us shoulder the burdens of the Syrian crisis ... Jordan is able to take measures to protect the interests of our people and country," he said without elaborating.
The monarch said that since the start of the Syria conflict, Jordan had stuck to a policy of supporting a political solution that preserves the war-hit country's unity and territorial integrity, as well security in the region.
The UN refugee agency says there are 541,025 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan, including more than 100,000 in the northern desert Zaatari camp near the border.
Jordan has repeatedly called for more international aid.
It says the growing refugee influx has placed a huge burden on already overstretched water and power supplies as well as housing and education, while unemployed Jordanians face tough competition from Syrians for jobs.
On Thursday, Amnesty International urged world support to help Jordan and other countries hosting Syrian refugees end border restrictions on those fleeing the conflict.
More than 115,000 people have been killed and over 2.1 million forced to flee - mostly to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt - since the conflict erupted after a crackdown on protests that began in March 2011 against President Bashar Assad.