Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are on an official tour of Jordan, and in between touring ancient ruins and meetings with religious leaders, they visited the King Abdullah refugee camp near Jordan’s northern border with Syria, which houses 1,200 people.
On their visit to the camp, Charles and Camilla met and spoke with several Syrian refugees, who told them stories of torture and hopelessness. One man named Naim Sabr told the prince how he used to write poetry against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and was detained and tortured as a result.
The Prince of Wales praised the generosity of the Jordanians and called for more international assistance. "The great thing to have come out of this is just how unbelievably generous the Jordanian people have been - they have been truly remarkable,” he said. “But it's putting more and more strain on food and hospitals so clearly the Jordanians need more assistance and help to be able to cope with this immense challenge."
UNHCR says the total number of Syrian refugees registered in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt now exceeds 1.1 million.
Camilla said she was moved by the experience. "I found it just a humbling experience seeing all those children, some of them without parents, who have lost their parents and who have obviously been adopted by others - I found it quite heartbreaking," she told reporters.
Jordan has taken in by far the bulk of the refugees from the Syrian crisis. Official numbers from the U.N. Refugee Agency, updated as of Tuesday, say that Jordan is currently sheltering and feeding 342,235 registered Syrian refugees. The Jordanian government says their estimates are closer to 420,000.
"I still think we are at the preliminary stages of a mass migration from Syria to Jordan,” Andrew Harper, the humanitarian coordinator in Jordan for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told the Telegraph. "The desperation of the people in Syria is rising and we are not seeing any indications that the situation is going to get better any time soon. Jordan can’t continue to take hundreds of thousands or a million with nice words from the international community. "
According to the UK’s Sky News, Jordan has also become “a covert pipeline” to transfer arms, supplies and military advisers to the Syrian rebels.
Charles and Camilla are the latest among a string of international figures, including American actress Angelina Jolie, who have visited Syrian refugees in the camps.
Maya covers the U.N., Europe, and the Middle East for IBTimes. She joined the company in July 2012 after having previously worked with DNAinfo.com and Gawker.