Jordan’s King Abdullah II has said that people in his country are at "boiling point" due to the influx of thousands of refugees from Syria, BBC reported Tuesday. Abdullah’s comments came on the heels of the U.N. refugee agency’s statement Sunday that about 20,000 Syrian refugees have been stranded on the war-torn country’s border with Jordan.
Jordan has been accepting refugees from Palestine and Iraq for decades and now asylum-seekers from Syria make up nearly 20 percent of the country’s population, BBC reported. "For the first time we can't do it any more," Abdullah said.
Abdullah told BBC the influx has put enormous pressure on Jordan's social services, infrastructure and economy. He noted that international powers would have to offer more help if it wanted Jordan to keep accepting refugees. Abdullah added that the kingdom’s public services has been under strain after Jordan spent 25 percent of the state budget on helping refugees.
"The psyche of the Jordanian people, I think it's gotten to boiling point. It hurt us when it comes to the educational system, our healthcare. Sooner or later, I think the dam is going to burst and I think this week is going to be very important for Jordanians to see, is there going to be help - not only for Syrian refugees, but for their own future as well,” Abdullah told the British news network.
According to the country’s 2015 census, there are 9.5 million people living in Jordan, including 6.6 million Jordanians and 2.9 million noncitizens. Syrians make up the majority of noncitizens. The 54-year-old ruler said that European countries only understood Jordan’s pressure of taking in millions of asylum-seekers after accepting over a million refugees.
"They realize that if they don't help Jordan, it's going to be more difficult for them to deal with the refugee crisis," Adbullah said, indicating that Jordan might not be able to take in any more Syrians, according to BBC.
The king also noted that 1 percent of Syrian refugees now have work permits. After allowing job markets access to the Syrians, it would hurt Jordanians unless he offers more opportunities to his own people, BBC reported, citing Abdullah.
On Sunday, the U.N. refugee agency said that 4,000 to 5,000 Syrian asylum-seekers were arriving in Jordan each month. Till date, Jordan has allowed only a few dozen refugees to enter each day, meaning crowds of mostly women and children have begun to build.
International aid groups have asked Jordan to speed up before the humanitarian situation on the border becomes more difficult. Jordan hosts the U.N.-run Azraq refugee camp, which is only half full and could accommodate thousands more
The has U.N. asked Jordanian authorities to provide the “most basic necessities” to those still living on the border with Jordan, given that the nearest town is 90 miles away, Andrew Harper, the refugee agency chief in Jordan said, Sunday.