The international community must do more to address the issue of the nearly 75,000 Syrians stranded in the berm — the no-man’s land between the Jordanian and Syrian border, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt said on Friday.
“This is not a problem of Jordan’s making, or that Jordan should be left to bear alone. They have been warning for years that they would reach a point where they on their own could do no more,” the Academy Award winner said in remarks during a visit to the Azraq Refugee Camp, some 100km east of Amman.
“The world has known about the situation in the berm for months, but no solution has yet been put forward,” Jolie Pitt, who met with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh on Saturday, said, according to a statement posted on the UNHCR website.
“This is my fourth visit to Jordan since the conflict in Syria began. It is almost impossible to fathom what the last five years have meant, in the lives of refugees in Jordan and elsewhere in the region. Not a single family in this camp of 60,000 people has not suffered loss and trauma,” she added.
“But as difficult as conditions are, refugees here count themselves among the lucky ones…For all the good intentions, extraordinary efforts in the field, and the generosity of host communities, it is impossible to say that we, as an international community, are using all the tools at our disposal, or that we have even come close to doing enough to help the Syrian people,” the UN goodwill ambassador said.
Jolie Pitt stressed that the UNHCR and other agencies only have half of what is required to meet the needs on the ground to deal with the refugee crisis. “So my message to world leaders, as they prepare to gather at the UN General Assembly in 10 days’ time, is to ask that the fundamental root causes of the Syria conflict, and what it will take to end it, are put at the centre of the discussion,” she said.
“Any increase in humanitarian funding saves lives and is deeply appreciated as well as absolutely necessary... After five years, refugees do not want to know by what percentage their lives might be made fractionally more bearable, but when they will be able to go home.”
Angelina Jolie commended the Jordanian people for their “decency, tolerance and humanity”. “You have given your all to helping your Syrian neighbours, from the earliest days of the conflict. You did so knowing that it would be extremely difficult, and that the war could last for years, and with huge demands on your resources and services in your communities already,” the activist said, addressing Jordanians.
“Having given so much, you are still dedicated to doing more, and I welcome and thank His Majesty the King for the courageous and forward-looking decisions to help a number of Syrians access work and education in Jordan. Thank you for your moral leadership,” she added, wishing families in the Kingdom and the region a happy Eid Al Adha.
At her meeting with Judeh in Amman, Jolie Pitt discussed the refugee summit scheduled to be held in New York on September 20 and stressed the need for the international community to provide further support for Jordan. Judeh said reaching a political solution is a main requirement to end the humanitarian crisis, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.