Jordan says 16,000 Syrian refugees stranded on border

Jordan says the refugees are stranded in a remote desert area, up from 12,000 a week ago.

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Jordan said Monday that some 16,000 Syrian refugees are stranded in a remote desert area along its border, up from 12,000 a week ago.

Government spokesman Mohammed Momani told The Associated Press that the refugees are being "carefully monitored" by authorities and have received tents, heaters, food and medicine from U.N. and other aid organizations.

He said there are clinics supported by international agencies and the Jordanian military.

Many of the refugees have spent weeks or months in what aid agencies say are deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

In December, Human Rights Watch said satellite images of "the berm" showed at least 20,000 refugees and the U.N. refugee agency urged Jordan to allow them to enter.

Momani said about 50 to 100 are permitted entry each day, with priority given to women, children, the elderly and sick people, but that "security is the first priority."

"Jordan has so far hosted around 1.4 million Syrians on its territory, or the equivalent of 20 percent of its population, receiving up to 5,000 refugees per day at times. This has been mostly done at Jordan's expense," Momani said.

The U.N. refugee agency could not immediately be reached for comment.

Syria's five-year conflict has killed more than 250,000 people and generated a massive refugee crisis. Most of the more than 4 million people who have fled Syria reside in neighboring countries.

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