Water reaches Syrian refugees after Jordan border closure

Syrian refugees stranded in the desert along the border with Jordan lined up for water delivered by a 32-truck convoy

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Syrian refugees stranded in the desert along the border with Jordan lined up for water Thursday, two days after Jordan sealed off their two encampments in response to a deadly attack on its troops in the area.

The water was delivered to the border area by a 32-truck convoy, the first confirmed shipment since Jordan denied access to aid groups following Tuesday’s cross-border suicide car bombing, said an international aid official. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Cellphone photos from Ruqban, the larger of two camps, showed scores of refugees waiting to fill up plastic containers with water. Syrian children held up signs giving thanks to Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The two tent camps house about 64,000 Syrians who fled a five-year-old civil war and are waiting to be admitted to Jordan. Many have been stranded in the desert for months.

Before the border closure, the refugees received food and water from Jordan-based international aid agencies. Refugees would climb over an earthen mound, or berm, that roughly delineates the border, and pick up supplies on the Jordanian side. Earlier this month, aid groups said Jordan agreed to expand the distributions on its soil, near the berm.

Such plans were frozen after Tuesday’s attack killed six Jordanian troops and wounded 14. There has been no claim of responsibility, but Jordan says it has evidence of a significant presence of the extremist Islamic State group in the camps.

Jordan has sealed the border area and signaled that aid groups will have to find alternatives to sending supplies from Jordan.
“It’s a closed area,” said government spokesman Mohammed Momani. “Yet it does not mean that international organizations cannot find different ways and means to get aid to the people there.”

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