GO EAST: It is an unceasing exodus: every day, scores of displaced Syrians flee to to the dusty outpost of Ruwaishid, Jordan after struggling across the desert and through searing heat.
For Syrians, many arriving from Daraa, Damascus, Aleppo and Homs, the journey is a dangerous one. On their way south, the Syrians must travel through dozens of government checkpoints in regime-held Suweida, then present themselves to smugglers, who, for a fee, take the groups into the desert and closer to the Jordanian border.
From there, the soon-to-be-refugees carry their meager possessions the final distance through the desert, finally reaching the Jordanian Army-operated and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)-supervised border crossing. Syria Direct was there on Tuesday, watching Syrians nearly collapse from exhaustion as they poured in.
Every day, hundreds decide the promise of safety is worth the risks. On Tuesday, at least 500 Syrians reached Jordan in a matter of hours.
From Ruwaishid, many are transferred to Azraq Camp, Jordan’s newest camp for Syrian refugees, administered by the UNHCR and located 100 kilometers east of Amman. The camp opened on April 30th. As of June 8th, UNHCR reported 8,376 Syrians had arrived.
At the beginning of Syria’s three-year-long conflict, Syrian refugees largely entered Jordan from the densely populated, pro-opposition southwestern Syrian province of Daraa, along the well-traveled highway between Amman and Damascus.
Today, those crossing points are for the most part closed, in what pro-opposition Syrian news outlets claim is a deliberate attempt to prevent Syrians from entering the Kingdom.
Today, Jordan hosts 597,328 UNHCR-registered refugees, the majority of them living in urban center and in the northern Jordan provinces of Irbid and Mafraq. Jordanian officials cite much higher numbers.
-June 18, 2014
Photo courtesy of Syria Direct reporter-at-large Amjad Tadros.
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