Syrians are not Refugees

[01-10-2013 01:15 PM]

Since the Syrian civil war started in March 2011, Northern Jordan has been dramatically changed. Jordanians have experienced the conflict via the thousands that have crossed into their country through many pathways especially from the towns of Jabir and Ramtha. Syrians have never been denied entry even on a temporary basis as this puts their lives in danger.

From the early beginning of the conflict, Jordanians have felt that Syrians are as Jordanians – they have lived and married together, crossing the border easily. Therefore, when the conflict first began, many Syrians went to Jordan to stay with relatives – many didn’t consider themselves “refugees.” Yet as the war escalated, the situation became critical: Syrians without relatives in Jordan began to cross the border.

Due to the critical situation that the Jordanian economy has reached, local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) such as Islamic Relief started to help and aid Syrians to stay and work in Northern Jordan, housing them and assisting those whose savings were dwindling. In the meanwhile, the Jordanian government didn’t officially realize the growing crisis related to the huge number of people getting inside the country in few months until 2012, when increased fighting saw an average of 1000 people crossing the border on a daily basis. As a result, Zaatari camp was established in July 2012 in a windswept desert to deal with this problem.

I admit that Zaatari has never been well organized in the beginning, and conditions have been perilous. Instead of thinking of sorting this problems out, critics found a delicious meal to criticize the government without paying attention to the tragedy of Syrians.

As we all know, riots have begun since the camp’s creation and the bad weather in January 2013 resulted in extreme flooding. Nevertheless, the Jordanian government, NGOs and aid agencies have done advanced steps in improving the camp’s condition as the conflict rages on. About 54,000 Syrians lived in the camp until January 2013 as cited in a report by the United Nations, a number that has grown drastically since.

Syrians will go back home safe and sound sooner or later. The Jordanian government, people, organizations and agencies do not want Syrians to thank them for whatever they have done to them. Indeed, Jordanians always want to ensure safe access for all Syrians wishing to seek safety and refuge without discrimination just for humanitarian and brotherhood purposes that we believe in.

* Abdelrahman Mitib Altakhaineh is a PhD candidate in Languages and Linguistics at Newcastle University, England. He contributed this article to Ammon News English.

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