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Save the Refugees on the Berm

World  (tags: Syria, Jordan, refugees, The Berm, save them, war )

- 903 days ago -
For the 75,000 displaced people caught on JordanâEUR(TM)s desert frontier with Syria, salvation is only yards away. Unlike many of their fellow citizens, they can be saved. So why have they been effectively abandoned?


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Sheryl G (359)
Monday September 26, 2016, 2:08 pm

For millions of Syrian civilians trapped for five years by a relentless war, mere lifesaving aid, let alone refuge, is out of reach. But for the 75,000 displaced people caught on Jordan’s desert frontier with Syria, salvation is only yards away. Unlike many of their fellow citizens, they can be saved. So why have they been effectively abandoned?

They are assembled in a kind of buffer zone on an inhospitable strip of land, much of it within Jordanian territory, just north of the official Jordanian border. But that border is closed, which prevents aid from reaching these desperate refugees and at the same time prevents them from seeking safety. If they move, they risk being pushed back into Syria or perishing in the harsh desert. Both options are morally intolerable and completely avoidable.

The refugees have amassed in makeshift camps in an area known as the berm, so named for its distinctive raised barrier of sand, which marks a mileslong no man’s land between Syria and Jordan. Military bases, checkpoints and patrols dot the area, along with various Syrian armed groups, some of whom mix among the refugees.

Since the start of Syria’s war in 2011, the area around the berm has served as an entry point to safety in Jordan from the unremitting violence in Syria. But on June 21, Jordan closed its northern border after a car bombing that day at a nearby Jordanian military base.

For the last seven weeks, relief agencies based in Jordan have not been able to get to the berm. Adequate food, water and medical supplies are not reaching the refugees, just as summer temperatures soar. Rodents roam the sprawling settlement, which lacks proper latrines and shelter. Dust storms regularly rip apart makeshift tents.

With the border closed, a critical lifeline has been cut, threatening death by starvation, illness, heat stroke or unattended medical complications. While some water is provided by a rudimentary pipeline, it’s unclear how many refugees have access to it. And it’s not known if an ad hoc delivery of food last week, dropped by crane over the berm, reached all those in need.

What is clear is that no medical aid is getting through. Just this week, Doctors Without Borders teams in Jordan received reports from United Nations personnel that pregnant women at the berm had died in labor.

According to the United Nations, four out of five of the refugees at the berm are women or children. Even before the border closing, medical assessments conducted by Doctors Without Borders revealed alarming medical needs. Children suffered from diarrhea and malnutrition. Hundreds of pregnant women lacked adequate obstetric care. Many people were afflicted with respiratory illnesses and skin infections because of the harsh living conditions.

Now communicable diseases like cholera and hepatitis A and E threaten to spread. There are reports of worsening malnutrition. People with life-threatening injuries cannot get out for treatment.

Throughout the Syrian war, Jordan has displayed remarkable hospitality by taking in nearly 700,000 refugees, adding considerable strain on its health system and other social services.

But leaving the refugees at the berm doesn’t just threaten to tarnish Jordan’s admirable image. Further imperiling their lives would violate international law governing the protection and treatment of civilians displaced by war.

While Jordan’s legitimate military and security concerns must be considered, they must also be balanced against the urgent imperative to save lives. That starts with allowing the immediate resumption of humanitarian relief operations at the berm.

Medical evacuations must also begin again. People suffering from serious injuries or illnesses should be allowed to cross into Jordan for medical treatment.

But the resumption of emergency aid at the berm is not a long-term solution. Leaving people to suffer in the desert is unacceptable. The berm is not a bona fide refugee camp. It lacks basic services like a dedicated clean-water supply and clinics, let alone ways to handle requests for asylum. The population is also dangerously close to an active war zone inside southern Syria.

Moving the people in immediate need of protection, along with vulnerable women, children and the elderly, either into Jordan or to another safe country, is the only option. The humanitarian and legal needs of the refugees must be the sole consideration for solving their plight.

In September, the United States government will host a summit meeting on the global refugee crisis during the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York. Among its stated objectives is for countries to “at least double the number of refugees who are resettled or are afforded other safe, legal channels of admission.”

Jordan, a key American ally, is itself among the sponsors of a parallel United Nations meeting on refugees. Its priorities include enforcing international refugee law, supporting governments hosting refugees and guaranteeing refugee access to health care.

Saving people at the berm now will ensure more credible and meaningful meetings in September, although that is hardly the main reason to do so.

Jordan, together with its allies and the United Nations, must come up with a durable solution that does not further endanger this extremely vulnerable population. Jordan should be helped to uphold its own commendable record of saving Syrian lives, either by hosting the refugees or by moving them to safety elsewhere.

So many other Syrians are beyond help right now. Let’s at least save those who can actually be saved.

Sheryl G (359)
Monday September 26, 2016, 2:11 pm
Petition for those on the Berm Amnesty International Petition

JL A (281)
Monday September 26, 2016, 2:49 pm
signed via email, noted; thanks for posting Dandelion along with the back story that should horrify all with a conscience.

Darren Woolsey (218)
Monday September 26, 2016, 3:14 pm
Echoes of the Gaza Strip

Shared article over social media, Dandelion

Signed and shared petition over social media.

Donna T (0)
Monday September 26, 2016, 4:10 pm
thank you

Animae C (507)
Monday September 26, 2016, 4:19 pm
Thank you for pledging to stand up for refugees’ human rights.

TY Dandelion

Mandi T (366)
Monday September 26, 2016, 5:13 pm
Thank you for pledging to stand up for refugees’ human rights. The situation right now is critical, and every single voice speaking out on this is vital. 19,694 ACTIONS TAKEN

Walter F (129)
Monday September 26, 2016, 5:15 pm
Action taken

Shirley S (187)
Monday September 26, 2016, 5:38 pm
action taken

Darren Woolsey (218)
Tuesday September 27, 2016, 12:17 am

Closed to completion
Reshared over social media.

Arild Gone for now (174)
Tuesday September 27, 2016, 3:06 am
Thank you for pledging to stand up for refugees’ human rights.

Rose Becke (141)
Tuesday September 27, 2016, 3:26 am
Thank you for pledging to stand up for refugees’ human rights. The situation right now is critical, and every single voice speaking out on this is vital.

Please sha

Ben O (135)
Tuesday September 27, 2016, 6:45 am
I stand up for refugees’ human rights of course. I wish I knew what more to do than signing petitions though...

Past Member (0)
Tuesday September 27, 2016, 10:44 am
Signed thx Dandelion

Lois Jordan (63)
Tuesday September 27, 2016, 5:01 pm
Signed & noted. Thank you, Dandelion.

SuSanne P (193)
Tuesday September 27, 2016, 7:43 pm
What can I say? Shared and petition signed. Thank you Dandelion.

Darren Woolsey (218)
Wednesday September 28, 2016, 1:50 am
Reshared article over social media, Dandelion


Reshared petition over social media.

Marco Baracca (41)
Wednesday September 28, 2016, 4:16 am

Past Member (0)
Wednesday September 28, 2016, 5:21 am
They're not criminal but just homeless

Roberto MARINI (88)
Wednesday September 28, 2016, 8:20 am
must help syrian refugees

Barb SiteIssues V (202)
Wednesday September 28, 2016, 10:31 am
Signed & Noted, Thank you

Janet B (0)
Wednesday September 28, 2016, 1:20 pm

Birgit W (160)
Wednesday September 28, 2016, 2:12 pm
Gladly signed. Thanks for sharing Dandelion.

Ed Site Issues V (198)
Wednesday September 28, 2016, 3:21 pm
S&N, Thanks

Colleen L (3)
Wednesday September 28, 2016, 4:46 pm
Action taken. Thanks Dandelion

Inge B (202)
Thursday September 29, 2016, 1:06 am


Darren Woolsey (218)
Thursday September 29, 2016, 3:36 am

Closer. . .
Reshared over social media.

. (0)
Thursday September 29, 2016, 5:05 am
Thank you for pledging to stand up for refugees’ human rights. The situation right now is critical, and every single voice speaking out on this is vital.

Janet B (0)
Thursday September 29, 2016, 12:48 pm

Winn Adams (179)
Thursday September 29, 2016, 2:08 pm

Winn Adams (179)
Thursday September 29, 2016, 2:09 pm
Shared on FB

Maria Teresa Schollhorn (42)
Thursday September 29, 2016, 2:28 pm
Signed. Thanks Dandelion

Darren Woolsey (218)
Thursday September 29, 2016, 11:08 pm
Cannot see the petition any more from that link, Dandelion.
Has it been fulfilled?

Siddharth Bargate (0)
Friday September 30, 2016, 8:49 am

Sheryl G (359)
Friday September 30, 2016, 10:16 am
Drop in the bucket at 19,000 but for those 19,000 very important. No, perhaps not a war zone but due to US policies in places like Central America it has become a very dangerous place to live, hence we had women and children at our southern border.

The message - well the message can be any number of things. But what I do know, is if we would stay out of other people's Countries and develop our own green energy resources and took care of our own then it would be better for everyone. Because all we do is cause another area to go into chaos and then people are having to flee for their iives. Then the victims are victimized all over again when no one wants them in their backyards. Don't want them, then leave them alone.

Peggy B (43)
Friday September 30, 2016, 10:22 am

Janet B (0)
Friday September 30, 2016, 8:48 pm

Darren Woolsey (218)
Saturday October 1, 2016, 1:14 am
Presume the petition reached its goal, Dandelion, as it's no longer there?

Reshared the article over social media.

Sheryl G (359)
Saturday October 1, 2016, 5:32 am
The worst thing our Country did was allow the Federal Reserve to come in play in 1913. Private bankers at the control.
"Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes it's laws" — Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild

Janet B (0)
Saturday October 1, 2016, 2:12 pm

Lenore K (0)
Saturday October 1, 2016, 4:23 pm

Janet B (0)
Sunday October 2, 2016, 2:58 pm

Mark p.muc (31)
Wednesday October 5, 2016, 1:35 am
thank you 4 the info

Darren Woolsey (218)
Thursday October 6, 2016, 12:32 am
The Rothschilds are still major players today, as well.

Sunday October 9, 2016, 11:47 pm
Thank you for pledging to stand up for refugees’ human rights. The situation right now is critical, and every single voice speaking out on this is vital.
Thank you, Dandelion.

Darren Woolsey (218)
Monday October 10, 2016, 12:00 am

Philippa Powers (10)
Friday October 14, 2016, 8:23 am
Noted. Thanks.

Gina Caracci (219)
Saturday December 10, 2016, 6:01 pm
signed! Another world failure....makes me feel so grateful though and that makes me feel worse for them and so many like them

Darren Woolsey (218)
Saturday December 10, 2016, 11:42 pm
6,296 NEEDED
Reshared over social media.
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