Jordan and Israel must open borders to displaced Daraa residents: HRW

Jordan and Israel must open borders to displaced Daraa residents: HRW
2 min read
04 July, 2018
At least 270,000 Syrians have been displaced since the regime launched its Daraa offensive, and tens of thousands are stuck in limbo along Syria's borders.
Jordanian forces close the border to Syrians fleeing Daraa [Getty]

Human Rights Watch called on Thursday for Jordan and Israel to allow Syrians fleeing violence in Daraa to cross the border and claim asylum.

The plea comes a day after Jordan's army said its border with Syria would remain closed, despite at least tens of thousands of Syrians arriving at the border gates. 

"The abject refusal by Jordanian authorities to allow asylum seekers to seek protection not only goes against their international legal obligations, but against basic human decency," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW.

Most of the Syrians who fled Daraa and are stuck along the Jordan border are sleeping in the open air or in makeshift shelters. 

Meanwhile, thousands of displaced Daraa residents have gathered along the border between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. But the Israeli army has also said it would not allow Syrians to enter the territory. 

The UN said on Monday that 270,000 Syrians have already been displaced in the latest regime onslaught in southern Syria, which is backed by the Russian air force.

"The situation in the southwest is so dangerous that even humanitarian convoys cannot cross to provide aid to populations in need," said Fakih. "There is no stronger signal that Jordan and Israeli authorities should not close the door on Syrians fleeing to safety".

Jordan's foreign minister Ayman Safadi has meanwhile met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for talks. Safadi called for a ceasefire in the south, saying the developing situation was of "great importance" to Jordan. 

Jordan hosts around a million Syrian refugees in the country - 650,000 officially registered - most living in camps in the north and east of the kingdom.

But Lavrov said Moscow was hoping rebels would lay down their weapons. 

"We are helping the Syrian army carry out its work with the armed groups, to convince them to sign a reconciliation agreement, drop their arms, and resume a peaceful life," he said. 

Through military operations and ceasefire deals, Syrian regime forces are now in control of more than 60 percent of Daraa.

Daraa is considered the birthplace of the Syrian revolution. The regime turned its attention to the province last month after scoring a number of military victories that saw it control Damascus and its surrounding areas for the first time since 2011.

Millions of Syrians have been displaced and hundreds of thousands killed since the uprising-turned-war began, mostly at the regime's hands.  

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab