Jordan discriminating against Palestinians fleeing Syria: rights group


Mohammed, a 27-year-old wounded Syrian brought to Jordan for medical treatment, sits on his hospital bed after undergoing a surgery at the Red Crescent medical institution in Amman on February 12, 2012.


Khalil Mazraawi

A major rights group today accused Jordan of forcibly detaining or deporting Palestinians fleeing the violence in Syria, calling on Amman to give equal treatment to everyone trying to escape Syria's ongoing humanitarian crisis. 

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Jordan was quick to refute the charges, with the country's information minister, Sameeh Maaytah, telling The Associated Press today that the claims made in the Human Rights Watch report are “totally baseless.”

The report charged Jordanian authorities of arresting all Palestinians trying to enter the country, most of home do so illegally, without providing any information as to their release, said AP, a policy the rights group claims started in April. 

Jordan is facing a growing refugee crisis born out of the more than year-long conflict in neighboring Syria, where a political crisis has left some 10,000 people dead. Jordan has taken in nearly 27,000 Syrian asylum seekers since March 2011, "to its credit," noted Human Rights Watch.

Today's report from the New York-based rights watchdog, which was based off a score of interviews with Palestinian refugees, claims many of the Palestinians who flee to the country are either detained at the border or threatened with deportation back to Syria. The report could not be independently verified.

AP said two million Palestinian refugees and their descendants already live in Jordan. 

But Human Rights Watch refugee researcher Gerry Simpson said a group of 12 Palestinians, including women and children, were recently arrested and held for months, reported AP.

These people "have a right to seek asylum in Jordan, move freely in Jordan, and shouldn’t be forced back into a war zone," Simpson said in the report