Jordan's King Abdullah warns Syrian refugee 'dam will burst' if rich nations don't take fair share

Oxfam has released a new analysis of how much rich countries are doing to meet their 'fair share' of the refugee crisis

Adam Withnall
Tuesday 02 February 2016 10:31 GMT
An aerial view of the Zaatari refugee camp on the Jordan-Syrian border, which houses 80,000 people
An aerial view of the Zaatari refugee camp on the Jordan-Syrian border, which houses 80,000 people (AFP/Getty Images)

The king of Jordan has warned his country could stop taking refugees from Syria if it is not offered more support by the international community.

Jordan says it is already hosting 1.27 million of the more than 4 million people who have fled Syria since the start of its civil war, and King Abdullah said the country was reaching “boiling point”.

He said only half of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian children in Jordan had been given school places, and said hospitals and jobs were also seeing unbearable pressure.

He told the BBC: “Sooner or later, I think, the dam is going to burst.” Jordan has been asked by the UN to take in those fleeing conflict in the region for decades. “For the first time, we can’t do it any more,” he said.

King Abdullah was speaking as Oxfam released a new analysis of the contributions to solving the refugee crisis from some of the richest countries in Europe and the West.

The charity analysed whether rich nations were doing their “fair share” both in terms of offering refugee places and donating funds.

Its study corroborated King Abdullah’s claim that the international community is not doing enough – finding that rich countries are only taking 28 per cent of the minimum number of refugees they should be.

The UK was highlighted as particularly underperforming, meeting just 23 per cent of its suggested refugee intake. It was nonetheless noted that Britain and the Netherlands were among the most generous nations financially, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia have significantly reduced funding.

Oxfam found that while Australia, France and Russia have increased their direct intervention in the conflict, this was not met with a corresponding commitment to international appeals. Russia provided just one per cent of its fair share to the appeals linked to the crisis in 2015, it found.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB chief executive said: "The world is failing the people of Syria. Countries must do more to help in Syria, in the region and in resettling the most vulnerable.” Britain specifically “can and should do more”, Mr Goldring said.

This week, the UN is seeking £5.4 billion in funding to provide aid for 22.5 million people in Syria and neighbouring countries, and King Abdullah said it was time for Jordan to be supported by the rest of the world.

“This week is going to be very important for Jordanians to see, is there going to be help - not only for Syrian refugees, but for their own future as well,” he said.

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