Report: Jordan deports Palestinian refugees

A report by Human Rights Watch says Amman is denying entry to and deporting Palestinian refugees fleeing war in Syria.

Approximately 520,000 Palestinian refugees live in Syria, many in camps like Yarmouk, near Damascus [AFP]

Amman, Jordan – The Jordanian government has been criticised by a human rights group for forcing Palestinian refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria to return to the conflict-stricken country.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on Thursday titled: Not Welcome: Jordan’s Treatment of Palestinians escaping Syria”. HRW said that more than 100 Palestinians had been expelled from Jordan, adding that Amman has also recently denied entry to other Palestinians from Syria seeking refuge in the country.

The report said that many Palestinians have entered the country with falsified documents or were smuggled in after Jordan placed restriction on allowing Palestinians to enter.

“It leaves them at high risk of exploitation here in Jordan as they cannot access refugee camps designated for Syrians, or work,” warned Adam Coogle, one of the report’s reseachers.

The report contains accounts by refugees that detail how those denied entry into Jordan included women and children.

In one instance, a refugee, Mahmud Murjan, was killed 20 days after being deported back to Syria in September 2012, by armed gunmen who broke into his house and abducted him.

Murjan’s body was later dumped outside his home showing signs of torture.

Despite not being a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol, Jordan is still obliged by customary international law not to return refugees to places where their lives would be threatened.

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Even those Palestinians with Jordanian citizenship have faced difficulty seeking refuge, according to the report.

Jihad Hjouj, has been in a holding facility for approximately 180 Palestinians in Jordan’s northern city of Ramtha, since fleeing Syria, despite once carrying Jordanian citizenship.

“It feels like we are imprisoned for the crime of becoming refugees twice,” said the Hjouj, who is unable to reunite with his family in Amman.

The HRW report documented the arrest of 10 Palestinians who have had their Jordanian citizenship revoked.

The Jordanian authorities were not available to Al Jazeera for immediate comment, but prior to the release of the study, Interior Minister Hussein Majali criticised the report as “unjust”.

“The report only looked at one aspect, but we have welcomed 1.4 [million] Syrian refugees,” he told a press conference on Monday.

Adding that the report “must be addressed in the country the refugees were forced to flee in the first place”.

The report also criticised donor countries and local and international aid agencies for not addressing the concerns of Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria.

Approximately 520,000 Palestinian refugees were registered with the UN in Syria before the uprising.

Most Palestinians coming to Jordan come from Palestinian camps in southern Syria or from the Yarmouk refugee camp in the southern suburbs of Damascus, all of which have witnessed fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces.

More than 607,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Jordan since the uprising to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011. The country is already home to more than 2 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants. 

Source: Al Jazeera