Advocacy group Human Rights Watch accused Jordan Thursday of refusing entry to, or forcibly deporting, Palestinian refugees escaping Syria in what it called a defiance of the country's international obligations.
In a report released in Amman, the New York-based group said Jordan has officially banned their entry since January 2013 and has forcibly deported more than 100, including women and children, who managed to enter the country since mid-2012.
The report said Jordan’s rebuff of Palestinians fleeing Syria contrasts with its treatment of Syrians, more than 600,000 of whom have taken shelter in Jordan since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in March 2011.
“Palestinian refugees face the same violence, killing and destruction that cause Syrian nationals themselves to want to flee to different countries,” HRW Middle East researcher Adam Coogle told a news conference in Amman.
The study, entitled “Not Welcome: Jordan’s Treatment of Palestinians Escaping Syria,” is based on interviews with more than 30 people affected by the non-admission policy, Coogle said.
According to the report, most of Syria’s neighbouring countries have also placed entry restrictions on Palestinians from Syria, “leaving thousands stuck and facing great dangers.”
“No refugees fleeing the violence in Syria -– Syrians and Palestinians alike –- should be denied entry and forced back against their will,” HRW said, urging Jordan to rescind its ban.
It also urged an end to deportations, saying Jordanian authorities often separated and deported Palestinian men from their families, “in some cases leaving the families without their primary source of income.”
“The deportations violate Jordan’s international obligation of non-refoulement, the prohibition in international law on returning refugees and asylum seekers to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened, or the return of anyone to the risk of torture,” HRW said.