Displaced Syrians blocked from fleeing to JordanListen /
Thousands of displaced Syrians are being prevented from crossing the border into Jordan, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The agency says over the past week only about seven Syrians have managed to cross the border into the Za’atari camp compared to at least 2,000 Syrians who have been crossing the border daily since the beginning of the year.
UNHCR says it is disturbed by accounts from those who have managed to flee that there may be restrictions imposed on those wishing to leave Syria.
UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming says the organization is putting in place contingency plans should there be a major influx of displaced Syrians into Jordan.
"We are not located on the other side of the border so it’s very difficult for us to determine what exactly is going on and what is preventing these people from leaving. It's not that the border is closed; they are just not coming. They are being held back for reasons we can only speculate. We have indications that there is heavy fighting in a number of border towns which may be preventing people to flee. We've been reporting consistently that the average number of people crossing into Jordan has been 2,000 a day. So if we have seven days with no 2,000 a day and the indicators are that things are not getting better across the border but worse, we do expect–and we are preparing for that– that as soon as things change and security allows these people to cross into Jordan, we have a significant influx."
UNHCR is appealing to all parties in the Syrian conflict to protect civilians and allow safe passage for those wishing to flee.
Over 1.5 million Syrians have so far sought refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.