Last updated: 24 September, 2013

King says Syria refugees overwhelming Jordan

Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday pleaded for more support for the swelling number of Syrian refugees, warning that his country was overwhelmed.

Abdullah said that Jordanians — also major hosts of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees — “have opened their arms to those in need, as we have always done.”

“But I say here and now that my people cannot be asked to shoulder the burden of what is a regional and global challenge,” Abdullah told the annual UN General Assembly.

More than two million Syrians have fled their country — primarily to Jordan, Turkey or Lebanon — since the eruption of the bloody two-year civil war that has claimed more than 100,000 lives.

“We can all see the reality on the ground: the need is out-racing the response,” Abdullah said.

“More support is urgently needed to send a strong signal that the world community stands shoulder-to-shoulder with those who have borne so much,” he said.

Abdullah said that Syrian refugees already were the equivalent of one-10th of the Jordanian population and could reach 20 percent — or one million people — by next year.

“These are not just numbers. They are people who need food, water, shelter, sanitation, electricity, health care and more.

“Not even the strongest global economies could absorb this demand on infrastructure and resources, let alone a small economy and the fourth water-poorest country in the world,” he said.

His remarks came shortly after President Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly that the United States, the largest donor on Syria, would provide another $340 million in humanitarian aid, much of it for refugees.

The State Department said that the aid brings the US contribution to nearly $1.4 billion and includes support for food, clean water and shelter.