Last updated: 12 September, 2013

Jordan appeals for aid to cope with Syrian refugees

Jordan needs hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to cope with the mounting number of Syrian refugees, Social Development Minister Reem Abu Hassan said in Paris on Thursday.

There were already more than one million Syrian refugees in Jordan and health and education services were absolutely stretched, Abu Hassan told AFP.

The Jordanian government puts the number of refugees at around 580,000 but says the number of Syrians living in the country is about 1.2 million.

Abu Hassan said that the humanitarian crisis in Jordan could spark the animosity of locals, who have been hitherto welcoming.

“Local communities are… actually supporting Syrian refugees but there might come a time when they could suffer from frustration and we don’t want to reach that level,” she said on the sidelines of a meeting of Euro-Mediterranean countries.

“I think we need around $300 million (225 million euros) annually to support the health sector and $800 million (602 million euros)for the education sector,” Abu Hassan said.

The United Nations agency for children recently said that only one third of the some 150,000 Syrian school-aged children in Jordan were getting an education.

Abu Hassan said the refugees were spread all over and not bunched in the massive Zaatari refugee camp as widely perceived internationally.

Many schools were doing double shifts while the size of the classes in schools in the affected areas had swelled from 25-30 students to around 60 students, she said.

“Many infections that were eradicated in Jordan, like TB, are now back,” she said.

Abu Hassan’s appeal came as French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius promised measures to fast-track the applications of Syrians seeking asylum.

“We have given orders so that demands for the right to exile are processed more quickly than in the past,” Fabius said on RTL radio, promising measures to “increase the number of refugees” granted permission to live in France.

According to French government figures, about 700 Syrians made requests for asylum in France between January and August.