UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie travelled to the Jordan-Syria border overnight Wednesday-Thursday to meet frightened and exhausted Syrian refugees who had just completed the perilous crossing to safety in Jordan.
She met a family who moved from Damascus to their home town of Daraa four months ago. They hoped that the situation would improve, but finally it was too much. The mother says they had no choice but to flee. There was no electricity, no water, no food and most of all no safety. Tears filled the youngest daughter's eyes as her mother talks of their ordeals.
This family is joining tens of thousands of others who have already fled to Jordan and surrounding country. Jolie returned to the camp on Dec. 6 to meet more refugees and the family she talked to before.
Jolie spoke with several refugees who had just fled across the border in total darkness to two remote border reception stations overlooking a broad plain straddling the frontier. The distant thud of artillery could be heard north of the border, where the lights of Syrian towns were visible. In all, 328 refugees arrived in Jordan during the night. Around the region, some 2,000 refugees flee to neighboring countries daily.
“We had a beautiful, hospitable country,” one refugee told Jolie. “We always helped one another. Now, there's nothing left and we can’t even help each other.”
Nearly half a million Syrians fleeing intensified fighting have been registered in neighboring countries since the conflict began. Hundreds of thousands more are unregistered, but are expected to come forward for help in the next few months as their resources are depleted.
Since the UNHCR special envoy’s last visit in September, the number of registered Syrian refugees in the region has increased by more than 200,000 and in Jordan alone by nearly 50,000. The sprawling Za’atri refugee camp north of Amman has doubled in size.
Angelina Jolie and her partner, Brad Pitt, made a donation of U.S. $50,000 for the purchase of family tents for refugees.