Jordan to permit aid drops to stranded Syrian refugees
"The new mechanism will be delivering aid on the berm through cranes, and the aid will be given to community leaders of groups of Syrians so they can distribute it accordingly," government spokesperson Mohammed Momani said on Monday.
It will be up to the aid agencies to decide on the pace of shipments, he added.
However, the border will remain sealed due to an ongoing security threat to Jordan, he said.
He alleged that the camps at the berm had been infiltrated by criminals, smugglers and extremists.
"You can describe part of it as a [Islamic State group] enclave," he said.
Momani's comments marked an apparent shift in Jordan's position in talks with international aid agencies over access to the displaced.
However, two aid officials speaking on condition of anonymity said nothing had been finalised.
One of the officials, who has direct access to the talks, said he was not aware of an emerging agreement on crane drops, adding that another meeting was set for Tuesday.
The pro-Western kingdom sealed its border with Syria in June, after a deadly cross-border attack claimed by IS extremists killed seven members the Jordanian security forces.
|The new mechanism will be delivering aid on the berm through cranes, and the aid will be given to community leaders of groups of Syrians so they can distribute it accordingly.
- Mohammed Momani
The displaced live in two makeshift tent camps in an area where the frontier is marked by two parallel low earthen walls, or berms.
Conditions have become increasingly dire, with aid officials reporting the spread of disease, including whooping cough and hepatitis.
Before the border closure, aid was sent from Jordanian soil. In August, Jordan permitted an aid drop by crane, in what was described at the time as a one-off shipment.
UN agencies have since proposed setting up an aid distribution center between five and seven kilometers west of the largest encampment, known as Rukban, within the strip marked by the two berms, an aid official said.
The suffering at the berm has caused some friction between Jordan and the international community.
Jordan has said the international community needs to take responsibility for those stranded at the berm, and that the kingdom has already done more than its share in taking in Syrian refugees.
In the past, Jordan has argued that this aid needs to come from Syrian territory, not Jordan.
Momani said Jordan has taken the "moral high ground" by offering to help.
Close to 5 million Syrians fled civil war in their country since 2011, including nearly 660,000 who settled in Jordan.