HRW: Jordan turning away Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria
Published Saturday 07/07/2012 (updated) 07/07/2012 22:27
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Jordan has forcibly returned Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria and threatened to deport others, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
Since April, Jordanian authorities have arbitrarily detained Palestinians fleeing Syria in a holding center, the report said.
Thousands of Syrian refugees have entered Jordan without passing through an official border crossing after the Syrian state forces started to crush an opposition movement 16 months ago, according to the rights group.
Unlike Syrians, Palestinian refugees have been detained without possibility of release unless they return to Syria, according to Human Rights Watch.
Said al-Wadi al-Manasir, general secretary at the Jordanian Interior Ministry, told Human Rights Watch that the policy of releasing Syrians and detaining Palestinians was because Palestinians were not facing violence in Syria.
He was unable to explain why Jordan changed its policy in mid-April, before which Palestinians were freed from the detention center like Syrians once they had established their identity and found a guarantor.
Al-Manasir denied Jordan had returned any Palestinians to Syria, but refugees told Human Rights Watch that they had been forced back to the country.
Palestinians in Syria told Human Rights Watch in June that Syrian security forces are detaining hundreds of people, including Palestinians, in the Yarmouk suburb of Damascus where 200,000 Palestinians live.
They said that thousands of Palestinians have recently fled the city of Homs and its suburbs because of the violence there, as well as from Daraa due to recent heavy shelling, and have sought refuge in Yarmouk.