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Jordan’s UNHCR representative rules out resettlement of Syrian refugees

Published: Updated:

Andrew Harper, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Jordan, ruled out the possibility of “settling” Syrian refugees in Western and European countries.

In his discussion on the “Point of Order” program, broadcasted on Al Arabiya on Friday, Harper said: “No one wants the situation in Syria to deteriorate to the extent that it imposes the resettlement of Syrian refugees in distant regions.”

He added: “Syrian refugees do not necessarily want to benefit from the resettlement procedure; they prefer to return back home like all other refugees, they do not want to live in refugee camps or remain as refugees.”

Harper stated that “470,000 Syrian refugees have been registered in Jordan; it is a huge number of refugees, mostly women and children.”

He goes on to state that more than 60 percent of Syrian exiles in Jordan are classified as children.

Commenting on the statement of Jordanian Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh who said that “the number of Syrian refugees flooding into Jordan could make up some 40 percent of the kingdom’s population by the middle of 2014,” Harper declared that “the Jordanian government is estimating these numbers.”

He then poses the rhetorical question, “is it possible for 1 or 2 million Syrians to get to Jordan in light of the current situation in Syria?”

“Of course,” he anwers, “because Damascus is only 90 kilometers away from the Jordanian-Syrian border.”

A message to the trouble makers

Harper also had a message about those who are instigating unrest in Jordan’s al-Zaatari refugee camp; where several riots have taken place, according to The Associated Press.

“First, it is very easy to blame everyone; the refugees do not accept to live in camps in the middle of the desert. They are most probably annoyed due to the deterioration on the political level, and the lack of water and tents in the camps.”

Harper added that “it is inexcusable for the refugees to resort to violence; it is true that Jordan is dealing with the Syrians as brothers, but the refugees should also know that they are guests and therefore, should abide by the Jordanian laws, rules and regulations.”

Responding to questions over whether pro-government activists had managed to gain access to the camps, Harper said: “We can never be 100% sure about all those who are living inside the camps especially since two thousand refugees are arriving every night and around 15 thousand refugees every week. We do not know the background of each and every refugee in the camp; those who can expose the infiltrators are the refugees themselves.”

He laments the slow speed at which international negations on the Syrian conflict are taking place.

“The international community should boldly deal with this situation in order to reach a political solution that allows the refugees to return back home.

“If we do not instigate a political process and do not take firm decisions to end the ongoing fighting in Syria, nothing will change,” he added.

The UNHCR representative states that he expects a large-scale return to Syria once peace is restored in the country.