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The Syrian Refugee Deportations in Jordan, and Why They Matter

Jordan, despite severely limited water and agricultural resources, has hosted, since 2011, almost 655,000 Syrian refugees, making it the second largest refugee-hosting country in the world, in proportion to its population. According to a Human Rights Watch report, however, starting in early 2017, Jordan has been summarily deporting over 1000 Syrian refugees per month, without opportunity to challenge their removal or properly investigating the danger posed by their return.[1][2] The reality is that there is a real danger to refugees who are returned, either from airstrikes, or being perceived as an enemy of Daesh or President Assad’s forces.

The interviews in the Human Rights Watch Report suggest that many of these collective deportations are done without a given reason.[3] Additionally, of the deportations that have a reason, many serve as punishment for persons allegedly connected to militant groups. The punishment, however, can be far reaching, and anyone from family members to other families from the same village of origin can be deported. Many refugees are now avoiding calling or taking calls from relatives still living in Syria, because connections to people simply living in Syria can be grounds for deportation, regardless of whether those people are connected to militant groups.

The report notes that Jordan is a party to the Arab Charter of Human Rights, which in no uncertain terms prohibits collective expulsion.[4] By punishing and expelling family members and villages, Jordan is failing to uphold its obligations under this charter. Furthermore, Jordan has also pledged to uphold the “customary international law principle of nonrefoulement,” which discourages returning refugees to places where they would be persecuted or at risk of cruel or inhumane treatment.[5] The report, which interviewed 35 Syrian refugees in Jordan, and 13 Syrian refugees who had been deported, is a poignant example of this. Not one of the thirteen Syrian refugees who had been deported felt safe upon their return, nor have they been able to return to their homes.[6]



This all leads to the question of: What can be done for readers that are not determining policy in Jordan? How can the average person develop crisis resiliency from afar?*

The report notes concrete objectives for Donor Governments, so here’s some ideas:

Contact your government officials and ask them to increase aid to nations supporting refugees, like Jordan!

You might say: Hello, my name is _______ and I’m calling from [town name, state name]. Please tell the [Senator/Rep] that I support refugees and aid to nations that support refugees. I’d like to see more aid going to nations, such as Jordan, that support an enormous load to provide assistance to those in need. [Senator/Rep X] should support increased funding for both international refugee assistance and for refugee resettlement in the U.S. Thank you for your time!

Type in your zip code to find your representative in the:

House of Representatives –

Senate –

White House –


*If you are determining policy in Jordan, the HRW report has concrete recommendations for you near its beginning!

[1] Human Rights Watch. “I Have No Idea Why They Sent Us Back” Jordanian Deportations and Expulsions of Syrian Refugees. United States of America, 2017. Accessed 10/9/2017.

[2] “Jordan: Syrian Refugees Being Summarily Deported: No Due Process Protection; Risk of Serious Harm.” Human Rights Watch. (Retrieved 10/9/2017).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.