U.N. Official Sees ‘Tents to Horizon’ on Syria–Jordan Border
There may be as many as 100,000 Syrian refugees in the no man’s land on Jordan’s border with Syria. The director of the World Food Program, Ertharin Cousin, gave the fresh estimate after overflying the desert area and seeing “tents to the horizon.”
The border has been sealed off by Jordan after attacks on Jordanian military outposts by militants from the so-called Islamic State. The area, known as “the berm” because the border is marked by an earthen wall, had only a few thousand refugees seven months ago.
The U.N. has negotiated one-off access to the area to deliver 30-day rations, amid concerns that the refugees are running out of food and water.
“We are going to use this opportunity to get food in quickly over the coming days to give us the space to develop the next solution for providing ongoing assistance,” Cousin told the Associated Press.
The rations are expected to be trucked in, but future aid supplies will be complicated to deliver. Aid drops could play into the hands of militant groups near the camps who could seize the supplies, Cousin suggested. Access from the Syrian side would be fraught with difficulty because of the presence of a number of armed groups.
“We will use every option in our toolkit,” said Cousin.
Refugee Flows Have Slowed but Switched to Italy
Italy has overtaken Greece as the new front line of migrant and refugee arrivals, said the head of the European Union external border agency, Frontex.
But flows have slowed since April, despite 360,000 illegal entries in the first six months of the year, said Frontex boss Fabrice Leggeri.
“For the first six months of 2016, there were 360,000 illegal entries in the E.U., which is higher than what we saw last year, but the influx has been diminishing since April,” he told France’s Europe 1 radio.
The numbers have reduced markedly since a controversial pact between the E.U. and Turkey reduced Aegean crossings in April. Italy is seeing an average of 750 arrivals each day, compared to Greece’s 50, said Frontex.
A Malta-based charity said one of its rescue ships had rescued around 400 people and recovered the bodies of four migrants on July 12 from a wooden boat en route to Italy from Libya. Meanwhile four people, including two children, have died after an inflatable boat carrying migrants overturned near the Greek island of Lesbos, said the Greek coast guard.
U.N. Appeals to South Sudan Neighbors to Open Borders
Some 36,000 people have been displaced since the resumption of fighting in South Sudan, said the United Nations.
The U.N. refugee agency has appealed to neighbors of the war-torn young country to open their borders to refugees.
South Sudan has been engaged in a bloody civil war for nearly half of its five-year existence. Factions loyal to the president and the vice president who hail from the country’s two dominant ethnic groups have yet to lay down arms despite a peace deal.
Three-quarters of a million South Sudanese refugees have fled the country and another 250,000 have been displaced within its borders. Fresh fighting over the weekend saw 7,000 people seek shelter at a U.N. base in the capital, Juba, Al Jazeera reports.
- IRIN: Syrians Trapped in Desert No Man’s Land, No Way Forward No Way Back From the Berm
- Reuters: Syrian Rebels Say Russian Jets Hit Refugee Camp Along Jordan Border
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- Reuters: Europol Chief Says People Smugglers at Record Levels as Criminal Gangs Move In
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