Jordan Launches Aid Campaign For Deraa Refugees

Since June 17th, the United Nations has estimated that 330,000 Syrian refugees have become displaced due to the battle against Deraa rebels in Syria’s south. On June 19th, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime alongside Russian armed forces commenced their offensive in Deraa and the Quneitra province in southern Syria. According to the UN’s refugee agency this has left approximately 60,000 Syrians at the Nassib-Jaber border who are in desperate need of shelter and resources. As Jordan is currently home to roughly 1.4 million Syrian refugees, it has refused to allow more refugees to enter its border. This important international security and humanitarian issue has seen refugee families attempt to survive in appalling conditions after being forced from their homes. They are without shelter in high temperatures with few resources to protect themselves from air raids. The shelling from Syrian regime and Russian air attacks does not discriminate its victims, leaving both civilian and combatant causalities.

The United Nations reported earlier that “The living conditions of internally displaced persons along border areas are extremely difficult, as they lack adequate shelter, sanitation facilities, basic assistance and access to services.” Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General of the UN Farhan Haq announced that “In coordination with the Government of Jordan, the United Nations has provided life‑saving assistance including food, water, soap, sanitary items, shelter and medical supplies and equipment for the tens of thousands of Syrians near the Jordanian border.” This overwhelmingly positive response has enabled tens of thousands of refugees with hope throughout this terribly unstable time in Syria.

The Jordanian government joined the campaign and utilised the semi-governmental Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation (JHCO) in order to collect contributions for the Syrians. The Large Square in al-Ramtha has been used as a collecting ground for donations for Syria since the inception of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. The JHCO were then able to send aid using trucks to the Syrian border by the Jordanian army.  The aid is then sorted out by the Syrian citizens and distributed amongst the refugees. The results have seen hundreds of trucks crossing the border. This persistence and coordination of humanitarian aid efforts by the UN, the Jordanian Government and its citizens has enabled temporary relief to many of the refugees fleeing the life-threatening conditions of their homeland. While this aid campaign by Jordanians is commendable, keeping their borders open to Syria would be the most humane approach and instrumental to securing long-term safety for the refugees.

In addition to their government’s plans, many Jordanians have taken it upon themselves to provide aid and volunteering to help their neighboring country. This ‘grassroots campaign’ officially began on July 1st due to the video of a Jordanian car mechanic, Amjat Thiabat, who utilized Facebook as a platform to plead for help. Thiabat’s video went viral and began a wave of humanitarian aid and volunteers who believe that Syria deserve their help and respect. Thiabat told MME (Middle East Eye) that “We are opposed to closing the border…But if the government insists on closing the border and it has security concerns, we will send them relief.” In relation to this, Syrian refugees who have lived within Jordan for years as well as Palestinian refugees are some of the first people to lend a hand in helping the trapped refugees.

Further peaceful solutions are necessary in order to guarantee the safety of those who are affected by the violent conflict within the area. External forces, including those of neighboring countries, would be vital in securing the safety of these people.  Jordan provides an exceptional example for additional countries to emulate when providing humanitarian aid, although it is still crucial for the Nassib-Jaber border to be opened in order to save valuable lives. This humanitarian issue needs massive worldwide support and compassion, especially for defenseless refugees who’re seeking asylum from war-torn countries such as Syria. The conflict provides us all with a reminder of the harsh realities of war and the suffering that comes with it. There is no better time to help those in need and ensure the safety of every valuable human life affected.

Aisha Parker