Syrian refugees in Jordan 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
AMMAN - Around 20,000 Syrian refugees have fled to
neighboring Jordan in the last seven days due to escalating violence in
southern Syria, the fastest influx since the start of the uprising against
President Bashar Assad two years ago, Jordan's foreign minister said on
"What we have seen in terms of influx of Syrian refugees
coming to Jordan is ... unprecedented, larger than any other time in the last
two years," Nasser Judeh told Reuters. "We have had 20,000 Syrians coming into
Jordan since last Thursday." He said 6,200 refugees had crossed within the past
"We now stand at over 300,000 Syrians on Jordanian territory
since March 2011." Judeh attributed the spike in numbers to the level of
military activity in the south - several towns and villages in the southern
region of Syria are being bombarded.
"There is heavy exchange of fire
which we are monitoring and this of course is reflected in the numbers coming to
Jordan," the minister said.
Officials say until the latest surge in
numbers, Jordan had allowed in an average of 6,000 refugees every week in the
last six months.
Although the flow of refugees is causing concern in
Jordan, the kingdom will continue to keep its borders open but wants other
countries to help boost its ability to cope.
"We are making contacts with
major donor countries to tell them the camps in Jordan are almost reaching full
capacity so we need help to continue building infrastructure for further camps,"
Jordan's main Zaatari camp along the border hosts at least
60,000 Syrian refugees, with the rest spread across the country.
Lebanon and Turkey each host more than 130,000 registered refugees, and relief
workers predict the numbers will increase as violence escalates.
political decision to keep our border open to receive our Syrian brothers who
are escaping these harsh realities in Syria is still very much in place," Judeh
Jordan and U.N. agencies say some Syrian refugees are being shot at
as they flee with many having to be treated in hospital on arrival.
of the people coming overnight are injured with wounds and having suffered
gunfire and bombardment," Judeh said.
What began as a mostly peaceful
protest movement against Assad's family rule has since killed more than 60,000
people, devastated the economy and left 2.5 million people hungry.