The Syrian Refugee Deportations in Jordan, and Why They Matter

Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

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.

Violence at Kalma Camp

A section of the Kalma camp for internally displaced people (IDP), near Nyala, in South Darfur. Photo: UNAMID/Albert González Farran

On September 22nd, Sudan’s military used live ammunition to disperse protestors at Kalma camp in South Darfur, killing at least three civilians, according to UN News, and wounding 26 more. The number of dead was reported as five, four days later,  by multiple sources including Xinhuanet and Dabanga. The confrontation occurred after three days of protests against the coming visit of Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir to the camp.

On September 26th, the United States Embassy in Khartoum called on the government of Sudan to launch a “thorough and transparent investigation” of the clash between government forces and IDPs at Kalma camp. Tragically, the violence took place less than a month after commemorations were held for the ninth anniversary of the 36 people killed in Kalma camp by militia and paramilitary members in 2008, making this yet another example of the ongoing violence in the Darfur region against the indigenous population of Darfur.

While the violence was covered by Reuters, Human Rights Watch, and UN News shortly after it occurred, there has been no major news coverage as the days go on. Access to Darfur for western media is difficult, however the lack of coverage is indicative of the disinterest by the western audience in continuing to hear about government sponsored violence in Darfur, making sustained advocacy and pressure on governmental institutions a must.

Tell Congress: We Need Special Envoys

Secretary of State Tillerson is planning to dismantle multiple Special Envoy offices in the State department. Don’t let him!



From an anonymous refugee of Darfur:

The government of Sudan is one of the regimes that cannot be trusted. We even have one proverb, says that you can believe the devil, rather than Sudan government! No one can imagine, for how many years those victims of Darfur suffered, and still the same attacks, killings, rapes, captures, arrests, and tortures are going on! Crimes which all the nations saw and heard! But no change for a minute from GoS to improve the situation, and it uses all the opportunities to make the military forces and Janjaweed ready to fight. Look how many US presidents came and went, all of them sanctioned al-Bashir regime, but the same actions are still going on!

What we know is this regime purchases guns to kill one person, rather than to use money in building schools, or to implement any agreement to approach peace. It sees that spending money to devastate any part of Sudan or people is more easy than improvements!

All these terrible things are leading to expose the efforts of GoS to wash out the lives of Darfuri people. GoS should be under redoubled sanction – any help from communities, organizations, or individuals to GoS to lift sanctions means participating in the crimes of the genocide.

My voice is voice of millions of victims of Darfur, Djebal Alnouba, Blue Nile, and all the marginalized people collectively in Sudan. By their name, I am calling all the advocates, activists, experts, groups fighting for the rights, and individuals who have kind heart: to work very hard, to stop those who are defending the Sudan regime and who use the money before humanity, for their wealth!

See these innocents, they need a better life with dignity, education, peaceful environment, to grow like any child around the world, but they didn’t find it. What do you think about a life like this? If you have a kind heart don’t you see young children like yours are suffering? What did they do to be in situations like this? We need your voice to change this crisis, as a human for humanity.




67 US-based orgs/notables concerned about sanctions relief, ask @realDonaldTrump to test if #Sudan really changed

#SmartSudan Policy

Dear President Trump, 

CC: The Honorable Mike Pence, Vice President 
The Honorable Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State
The Honorable Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the United Nations

We ask that the Administration immediately appoint a Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan in order to bring urgently needed diplomatic leadership to facilitate efforts to bring peace in and between the two countries. The complex conflicts in both Sudan and South Sudan present unique challenges that require a high-level senior U.S. diplomatic official to lead policy coordination and collaboration with members of the Troika, African Union, European Union, and United Nations.

We also urge the Administration to focus its attention on reintroducing targeted sanctions against key individuals in the Sudanese regime. In January 2017 the U.S. lifted sanctions on Sudan, pending a six-month trial period to determine if the Sudanese government has made progress in resolving the various conflicts and improving humanitarian access across Sudan. With one month to go in the six-month trial period before its expiration in July 2017, it is clear that the government of Sudan is not willing to change its ways.

The Government of Sudan continues to block humanitarian aid from reaching war-affected populations, negotiations between the government and the rebel opposition has remained at a standstill, and attacks, arrests, and displacement continue. The U.S. must respond and make it clear to the Sudanese government that without concrete policy changes, sanctions and other coercive measures will be reinstated.

Finally, we urge the Administration to work to bring justice to the people of Sudan by providing incentives and disincentives to allied nations to help bring indicted President Omar al-Bashir to appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to be judged on allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.



Act for Sudan
Carl Wilkens Fellowship
Christian Solidarity International-USA
Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan
Collectif Urgence Darfour – France
Concerned Citizens For Change
Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy
Darfur and Beyond
Euro-African Forum on Rights and Development
Genocide No More–Save Darfur
Global Partnership for Peace in South Sudan
Help Nuba
Human Rights & Advocacy Network for Democracy (HAND)
International Refugee Rights Initiative
Investors Against Genocide
Jewish World Watch
Kol Shalom, Social Action Committee
Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur
My Sister’s Keeper
Never Again Coalition
Nuba Mountains Advocacy Group
Nuba Now
NYC Genocide Prevention Coalition
Oregon Coalition for Humanity
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Same Difference Interfaith Alliance
San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition
Stop Genocide Now
Sudan Unlimited
The Nile Institute for Peace and
Together We Remember
UMass Amherst
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries


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Suggested tweet:

#SmartSudan policy requires govt appointees, targeted sanctions, and justice for the Sudanese @POTUS @nikkihaley


Other suggested targets include: @StateDpet @SenBobCorker @RepEdRoyce @USAID