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Jordan agrees to 'one-off' aid drop to Syrians stranded on border

Around 50,000 Syrians are stuck on the Syrian side of the shared border. [file photo-Getty]

Date of publication: 8 January, 2018

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Jordan sealed its border with Syria in 2016, after Islamic State group extremists killed seven Jordanian border guards, leaving thousands of Syrian refugees stranded in no man's land without supplies.

Jordan said on Sunday that it has agreed to a UN request to deliver humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of Syrians stranded near a border crossing between the two countries.

The kingdom sealed its border with Syria in 2016, after an Islamic State group militant attack on Jordanian border guards left seven officers dead.

The closure ended regular UN aid shipments from Jordan to displaced Syrians struggling for survival in a remote stretch of desert.

Jordan's foreign ministry said there would be a "one-off" operation to send "humanitarian aid across the Rukban border crossing" towards a desert area where the Syrians are stuck.

The operation will involve a crane drop that will deliver a container with aid from the Jordanian side of the sealed border to the Syrian side.

The ministry did not elaborate on the kind of humanitarian aid that would be sent to the Syrians or when they were expected to receive it, nor did he say how many Syrians are stranded in the desert.

According to UN estimates, based on satellite images, between 45,000 and 50,000 Syrians have been stuck for months on the Syrian side of the frontier near the Rukban border crossing.

Conditions are worsening for them as winter grips the region.

In October, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi had insisted that aid to those stranded near Rukban should come from Syria itself after the UN said deliveries were difficult to make because of the war.

The UN refugee agency says it has registered more than 650,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan since the conflict in Syria began in March 2011 with anti-government protests. 

However, Amman says it is hosting 1.3 million Syrian refugees, and has repeatedly called for more assistance to do so.

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