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January 6, 2013 5:17 pm

As Syrian War Rages Jordan Turns its Back on Palestinian Refugees

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Syrian refugees flee country. Photo: thirdage.com

The longer the war in Syria rages, the more refugees there are. Jordan has been a popular destination for many of these Syrian refugees, and it has been a welcoming country, for the most part, except when it comes to Palestinians.

According to an article on Public Radio International’s website, about 250,000 people from Syria have crossed into Jordan to seek refuge. Many of them begin their new lives at the Zaatari refugee camp near Jordan’s northern border with Syria.

Palestinians, on the other hand, are usually rejected entry. A 23 year-old man named Mohamed, speaking from the Zaatari refugee camp,  told PRI that his uncle, who had a Palestinian ID, had been turned away at the border 5 times. Fortunately Mohamed had a Syrian ID.

If Palestinian refugees from Syria are able to cross the border into Jordan, they are usually sent to a separate camp called Cyber City.

Whereas the Zaatari camp is home to about 44,000 people who are given access to water, food, donations and medical care from aid groups, Cyber City is a run-down, six-story dormitory. It’s in an industrial zone outside the city of Ramtha, next to the Syrian border.

Due in part to leftover bitterness from the bloody conflict between Palestinian militants and the Jordanian government more than 40 years ago, Jordan is wary of a large number of Palestinians re-settling there,

According to PRI, Jordan’s treatment of these new Palestinian refugees from Syria is strictly political.

“The Jordanian-Palestinian relations have improved tremendously over the past years, but there still remains worry, suspicion,” Daoud Kuttab, an Amman-based journalist, told PRI. “As a result, most officials in Jordan are very careful about any demographic changes that can tip the balance between East Bank Jordanians and Jordanians of Palestinian origin.”

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