Thousands of Syrians have fled to Jordan amidst the wave of violence currently wracking their home country. As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to lay siege to a number of cities in the country, the influx of Syrians escaping to the south is expected to grow.
At the beginning of the Syrian uprising in March, tens of thousands of refugees fled from the cities of Jisr al-Shugur and Idlib to Turkey, where they were welcomed by the Ankara government. With most of the Assad's offensive now focused on the central city of Homs and the southern city of Daraa, which is just five miles away from from the Jordanian border, refugees are moving south instead of north.
Jordan, which is experiencing its own wave of pro-democracy protests, has accepted more than 10,000 refugees, according to reports. This has put a humanitarian burden on the country and on refugee agencies active in the area. But Jordan, which has a long history of helping refugees, seems prepared for the task ahead.
New refugee camps are being built near the Syrian border, the largest costing $1 million. It will be ready in two weeks and have indoor bathrooms, electricity and 24-hour guards, and will be able to accommodate 1,000 families, according to The Associated Press.
In the meantime, Jordanian citizens and members of the 70,000-person strong Syrian community already in the country are taking in refugee families, and Syrian children are being immediately integrated into the school system. Still, there are a number of challenges facing both the Syrian refugees and facing Jordan, especially as Assad's military crackdown continues.
Many of these people are severely traumatized and, therefore, are very suspicious of authority, Andrew Harper, the Jordanian representative of the U.N.'s refugee agency told BBC.
So it's often very difficult even finding them to offer and facilitate the help they need.
There are also rumors that foreign troops are gathering in Jordan to prepare for an assault on Syria. Earlier this week, it was reported that thousands of Libyan mercenaries, paid by Saudi Arabia, were training in Jordan, while on Friday it was alleged that U.S. and NATO forces were in Jordan preparing Turkish fighters to combat Assad's army.