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Jordan rejects as groundless HRW’s allegations of forced deportation

Momani says watchdog should, instead, work for mobilising world’s support to host countries

By Mohammad Ghazal - Oct 02,2017 - Last updated at Oct 02,2017

AMMAN — Jordan on Monday rejected as baseless claims by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the country has been “summarily deporting Syrian refugees — including collective expulsions of large families”.

Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad Momani said the country categorically rejects the allegations in the report, released Monday, claiming that the “Syrians are not being given a meaningful chance to challenge their removal and Jordan has not assessed their need for international protection”.

“Jordan is abiding by the international law in this regard…The return of the Syrian refugees is voluntary and in such cases the return is to areas where there is no threat or danger to their lives,” Momani, who is also the government spokesperson, said in remarks to the Jordan Times.

In its 27-page report the HRW said it documented that during the first five months of 2017, Jordanian authorities deported about 400 registered Syrian refugees each month. 

In addition, approximately 300 registered refugees each month returned to Syria during that time under circumstances that appeared to be voluntary. Another estimated 500 refugees each month allegedly returned to Syria under circumstances that are unclear, the HRW report posted on its website indicated.

In the report, Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying: “ Jordan shouldn’t be sending people back to Syria without making sure they wouldn’t face a real risk of torture or serious harm and unless they have had a fair opportunity to plead their case for protection.”

Calling for accuracy when issuing reports, Momani said: “We wish that organisations be accurate with regard to such issues of sovereignty and to appreciate Jordan’s key humanitarian role in this regard.”

These NGOs, he said, are required, instead, to demand that the international community support refugee hosting countries and place pressure on other countries to absorb more refugees.

“The security of Jordan and its citizens is above all considerations,” stressed the minister.

Jordan is home to some 1.3 million Syrian refugees of whom more than 600,000 are registered with the UNHCR.

A protection case manager who works with international relief organisation in Zaatari camp told The Jordan Times Monday that there were few cases of deportation in 2012 and 2013 “for valid reasons, as the people involved violated laws”. 

 

Commenting on the report, the relief worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity,  said: “We have not heard of any cases of deportation from the camp and services are provided as usual whether to the Syrian refugees at the camp or even those stranded at the no-man’s land makeshift camp [Rukban] between Jordan and Syria.” 

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