In Jordan, the dotted future of Syrian refugees

By Laure Stephan

Posted on October 20, 2021 at 11:22 a.m.

To feed his family, Abou Mohamed has long been resourceful. In Syria, he accumulated several trades. In Jordan, he found a stable activity. But today, this 52-year-old Syrian refugee seems short of inspiration. Her only income comes from the sale of balloons for children, in the streets of the small town of Mafraq, in the north of the Hashemite kingdom. Balloons with the effigy of cartoon characters, which bring a little color in his living room with decrepit walls.

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Abu Mohamed has long hoped for political change in Syria. Located in the south of the country, his village, the name of which he prefers to keep silent, embraced the revolt against Bashar Al-Assad’s regime as soon as it started, in spring 2011. It then hosted rebel groups. He lived in hiding before moving to Jordan in 2012, where his family joined him. “If I had only found a tree for shelter, I would have been content, he says. As long as the Jordanian government accepts us, I will stay here. “

Abu Mohamed holds the balloons he sells in the streets for a living in Mafraq, Jordan.  He is a Syrian refugee from Daraa, Syria.  In Irbid (Jordan), October 5, 2021.

He knows it: his status is precarious, and the tide is turning. Arab countries, Jordan at the head, resume language with Damascus. Amman puts forward its economic interests and its need for stability to justify this rapprochement. The kingdom expects quick dividends from the recent reopening of the Nassib-Jaber border terminal to the north.

Warning to activists

Officially, the Jordanian government’s attitude towards refugees, which mixes humanitarian and security considerations, has not changed. They are more than 670,000 according to the UN, a few hundred thousand additional according to the authorities. The peak in arrivals took place in 2013, after the uprising and the repression had shifted into war. At that time, the reception of exiles in neighboring countries was facilitated by the anti-Damascus consensus reigning among most of the Arab capitals. However, this front is crumbling and Western donors are overcome by weariness.

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The closure this summer, in Amman, of the Syria Direct, a news site hostile to Syrian power, was seen by observers as a warning sign. A pledge of cooperation to Damascus, and a warning to activists. Joined by The world, the editorial staff, relocated to Germany, refused to comment on this decision. But according to the online magazine The Syria Report, the premises were closed by order of the Jordanian intelligence services. ” If no official reason has been provided by the Jordanian state, sources in Amman (…) affirmed that this closure seems to be linked to the recent rapprochement between Jordan and Syria ”, says the site.

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In Jordan, the dotted future of Syrian refugees