Thousands of refugees in Jordan return to Syria

"It is not a choice, but a desperate attempt to protect their families.”

Syrian refugees in Jordan, August 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Syrian refugees in Jordan, August 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Increasing numbers of Syrian refugees are returning to their war-torn country from neighboring Jordan as cuts in support go into effect, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) NGO working in Jordan announced Tuesday.
Some 4,000 Syrian refugees returned to Syria from Jordan in August, double the previous month, a trend that coincides with a sharp drop in food assistance to the refugees there, with some 229,000 already living in poverty, according to the NGO.
“The situation for Syrian refugees in Jordan has become increasingly precarious, including cuts in humanitarian assistance and challenges in accessing basic services,” Catherine Osborn, the protection adviser at the NRC’s Jordan office told The Jerusalem Post.
Asked if there is a Jordanian government policy to try to return or prevent more Syrian refugees from arriving, Osborn responded that Jordan, like all countries in the region, have called for increased support so it can better deal with the crisis.
“More than 10 % of the Jordanian population is made up of Syrian refugees. Jordan needs support from the international community to meet basic levels of assistance,” she said.
According to Osborn, 86 percent of Syrian refugees in Jordan are living in host communities and on less than $95 per person per month.
“They are not able to put a roof over their heads or food on their table,” she added.
Remarking on the trend of Syrian refugees returning to their country, Petr Kostohryz, country director at the NRC in Jordan said, “This is a very worrying trend, showing how hard the situation is for many families in Syria’s neighboring countries.
“Many families see no other alternative other than to return to a war-ravaged Syria, with the severe security risks that entails, or to embark on a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. It is not a choice, but a desperate attempt to protect their families”, said Kostohryz.
The UN and other organizations have received less than half the assistance they need to support refugees in Syria’s neighboring countries, according to a report released Tuesday by the Norwegian NGO.
The report also cited the specific reasons of refugees in Jordan for wanting to leave the country, including cuts in food assistance; lack of jobs and educational opportunities; and a wish to reunite with family members who remain in Syria.
More than four million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and been registered by the UN Human Rights Council.