The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jordan is bracing itself for an imminent influx of asylum seekers from Syria as violence in the conflict-ridden country shows no signs of abating.
According to a report by the U.N. body, there has been an increase in Syrian refugees around the region as families escape the strife brought on by a brutal crackdown on demonstrators protesting against President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.
“At the moment, what we can say is that there are 1,500 Syrians who are registered with us. That is not the total number in the kingdom. There are estimated to be several thousand, but we do not have the official number, but certainly the movement continues and we are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst," said Arafat Jamal, UNHCR representative in Jordan.
“We have been working hand in hand with the government and the people of Jordan to make sure that the borders remain opened and that people who arrived do not place a burden upon Jordanian institutions and society, so this is essentially what we are doing,
“We had enough time to prepare, we have support from our donors to prepare for them and we are trying to do this both, in the present - dealing with the numbers who are here now, but also in case of large mass inflows to be fully prepared.”
Most Syrians are fleeing from the border town of Deraa, a protest hotspot, others are escaping from Homs, another protest hub. They chose Jordan either because they have relatives living there or because Lebanon has seen a recent infiltration of Syrian authorities which makes it just as unsafe.
The refugees are facing increasing harassment from security forces across Syria, making it difficult for them to sustain themselves there.
The U.N. has estimated the death toll to be 4,600 since the unrest began mid-March, with tens of thousands detained according to various sources.
Arafat Jamal - UNHCR representative in Jordan