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No major shift in Jordan’s refugee policy — gov’t

By Khetam Malkawi - Jan 17,2016 - Last updated at Jan 17,2016

In this recent photo, released Sunday, Border Guards help a Syrian family that was among a new group of Syrian refugees received at the northern border in Jordan (Photo courtesy of Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army)

AMMAN — There is no major shift in Jordan’s policy towards receiving refugees, but the Kingdom is taking the security concerns very seriously, said a government official on Sunday.

Jordan has taken so many refugees and is “willing to cooperate with any other country that is willing to take those refugees… We can send them in our airplanes”, said Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani, in reference to around 12,000 Syrian refugees camping across the border with Syria to the east.

The minister’s remarks came during a press conference in response to a question related to the reason of not allowing the entry of thousands of Syrians in that bordering area.

“Jordan maintains its open door policy…[but] we do have security concerns, and this group specifically came from the far northeast of Syria, areas that are controlled by Daesh,” Momani explained, echoing remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah during a recent CNN interview, adding that the country has intelligence suggesting that there are Daesh sympathisers and even members of this group. “We take this issue very seriously,” he said.

 

However, he reiterated that the Kingdom sends food, water, heating and medical supplies to these refugees. “We do not leave them without humanitarian support. We give them humanitarian support cut from the share that has been given to us.”

As for Jordan’s borders with Syria, the minister stressed that they will remain closed until “we are sure they are secure”.

As for the impact of lifting financial sanctions on Iran and Jordan’s concerns in this regard, Momani said: “We hope that this is a positive step and in the right direction.”

He added that the Kingdom also hopes that Iran will engage positively in enhancing regional peace and stability and respect the principles of good neighbourly ties and refrain from interference in the internal affairs of neighbours.

 

However, the minister stressed that Jordan will not accept having Iranian visitors coming for “religious” tourism. “For us, this issue is out of question,” Momani said.

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