Syria’s war: Jordanians launch aid campaign for Deraa refugees

About 270,000 Syrians have fled violence in Deraa, leaving tens of thousands stuck on the border with Jordan.

A Jordanian soldier stands guard while trucks loaded with humanitarian supplies to be delivered for displaced Syrians, wait at the Jordanian city of Mafraq
Jordan and Israel say they will not allow refugees from Deraa to cross the border [Muhammad Hamed/Reuters]

Hundreds of people in Jordan have flocked to the border with Syria for a second consecutive day to deliver aid to some of the 270,000 refugees who have fled ongoing violence in Syria’s Deraa province.

Their efforts come as a national donation campaign has been launched to collect supplies and clothing for families who have fled towns in the southwestern rebel-province, where an offensive by the Syrian army has taken much of the eastern part of the area.

“It is our national duty to help our Syrian brothers and sisters at this time. This is why we launched this donation campaign,” Hussein Smadi, one of the campaign organisers, told Al Jazeera.

The campaign is a response to Jordan’s decision to its borders shut for the Syrians, as the country says it is unable to host a new wave of refugees.


Several trucks transporting the supplies left for the border from al-Jubaiha, north of the capital, at midnight.

Organisers have noted that while a considerable amount of aid is on its way, more is needed to accommodate the needs of tens of thousands of people, including clothing and baby formula.

The influx of Syrians near the border area during the past few days has been a result of a Syrian army offensive, which began on June 19 with Russian military assistance.

Air raids launched by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have killed more than 170 people over the last several days in Deraa, local sources told Al Jazeera.

Most of those who fled the shelling from the eastern side of the province made their way to the border with Jordan, or the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

But both Jordan and Israel say they will not be admitting refugees into their countries.

Al Jazeera’s Tamer al-Samadi, reporting from the Jordan-Syria border in the Jordanian city of al-Ramtha, said the Jordanian government announced it was prepared to allow a humanitarian lifeline to be extended by the United Nations.

Collapse of negotiations

Meanwhile, talks between rebel factions in Deraa and Russia have collapsed following three days of Jordanian mediation.

While some rebel groups in towns such as Bosra al-Sham agreed to give up heavy artillery as a sign of surrender to the government, which has taken most of Deraa, while others refuse to agree to Moscow’s “humiliating” terms.

Assad’s military escalation on the remaining string of rebel-held villages – including Tafas, Nawa and Sheikh Saad in the eastern side of the province, has thus continued.

The development came as Jordan announced its foreign minister would be meeting with his Russian counterpart later this week to discuss the situation in Deraa.

Members from Syria’s Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, told Al Jazeera that it has become increasingly difficult to document the number of deaths and injuries with more people fleeing their homes.

Amar Abazeid said civil defence teams are doing “whatever they can” to tally the number of deaths, but with the recurring displacement of people from villages that have either been taken by the government – or that are under continuous bombardment, many civilian deaths have not been recorded.

Abazeid, who spoke to Al Jazeera from near the Nassib crossing, described the scenes at Syria-Jordan border as “tragic”.

Most of those stranded are sleeping in the wilderness, he said, with only some water being distributed.

“Aid supplies here – whether food or medicine – are scarce and are quickly running thin,” Abazeid, 30, said.

“What’s here can accommodate only a very small percentage of people … And more people keep showing up,” he said.

Additional reporting by Farah Najjar


Source: Al Jazeera