amman/BEIRUT: King Abdullah II said yesterday the influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees is depleting Jordan’s scarce natural resources, and called for international assistance to deal with the problem.
“Jordan currently hosts around 600,000 Syrian refugees — an issue that depletes our already limited resources and puts enormous pressure on our infrastructure,” the king said in a speech to parliament.
“If the international community does not move quickly to help us shoulder the burdens of the Syrian crisis... Jordan is able to take measures to protect the interests of our people and country,” he said without elaborating.
The monarch said that since the start of the Syria conflict, Jordan had stuck to a policy of supporting a political solution that preserves the war-hit country’s unity and territorial integrity, as well security in the region.
The UN refugee agency says there are 541,025 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan, including more than 100,000 in the northern desert Zaatari camp near the border.
Jordan has repeatedly called for more international aid.
It says the growing refugee influx has placed a huge burden on already overstretched water and power supplies as well as housing and education, while unemployed Jordanians face tough competition from Syrians for jobs.
On Thursday, Amnesty International urged world support to help Jordan and other countries hosting Syrian refugees end border restrictions on those fleeing the conflict.
rebel leader quits
More than 115,000 people have been killed and over 2.1 million forced to flee — mostly to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt — since the conflict erupted after a crackdown on protests that began in March 2011 against President Bashar Al Assad.
The rebel leader who led a massive July 2012 assault on Aleppo resigned yesterday, accusing both Syria “warlords” and the international community of “conspiring” against the people.
“Because of some people’s refusal to heed calls for unity... I announce my resignation from the leadership of the Revolutionary Military Council in Aleppo,” Colonel Abdel Jabbar Al Okaidi said in a video statement.
The July 2012 assault saw rebels seize large swathes of the city before a bloody stalemate set in.
Activists and rebels have long blamed internal disputes and the international community’s failure to supply the opposition with advanced weaponry for the sustained stalemate, which has resulted in the destruction of much of the city.
In his statement, Okaidi pointed to the rebel loss on Friday of Sfeira, southeast of the city, and said the “blessed revolution” against President Bashar al-Assad “has torn off the last mask on the face of the international community”, which is “conspiring against this people and against this revolution.”
Okaidi also lashed out at the exiled opposition, “who represent no one but yourselves.