News Column

Kerry Wants World to Step Up on Syrian Refugee Crisis

July 18, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday visited a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan and called on the world to play a greater role in addressing Syria's growing humanitarian crisis.

On the final leg of a three-day visit to the region, Kerry toured the Zaatari camp in northern Jordan, which with some 160,000 Syrian residents has been classified as the world's second largest refugee camp.

Kerry highlighted the growing social and economic strains the exodus of some 1.8 million Syrians has placed on Syria's neighbours.

Upon Kerry's arrival, some 200 residents held a protest calling for international intervention in Syria: "Where is the no-fly-zone? Where are the weapons for the revolutionaries? We are dying amid your silence," they chanted, according to witnesses.

During the tour, Kerry spent some 40 minutes reviewing Western policy on Syria with a group of six refugees, said US officials.

The United States is one of the largest donors to Jordan, which has opened its borders to more than 560,000 Syrians since the outbreak of the crisis in March 2011, extending some 45 million dollars in emergency humanitarian assistance last month.

The Syrian civil war has displaced about 6.8 million people, including 4.2 million inside the country, the United Nations said this week.

In Syria, at least five civilians were killed and dozens injured Thursday in government aerial attacks on the restive southern province of Idlib, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activists group.

The Britain-based organization added that government warplanes carried out airstrikes in the town of Saraqab in Idlib.

At least 93,000 people have been killed in the conflict, the UN has estimated.

A Syrian warplane also fired missiles into eastern Lebanon, the Lebanese state National News Agency reported.

The jet first staged a mock raid and then fired two rockets into the Lebanese border town of Arsal. No casualties were reported.

Arsal, which is located about 12 kilometers from the border with Syria, is a hub for Syrian opposition rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria's 28-month conflict has repeatedly spilled over into Lebanon, triggering deadly clashes between al-Assad's backers and opponents.

Lebanese Sunnis back the rebels fighting in Syria. The Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah has sent fighters to support al-Assad's troops.

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Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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