The United Nations refugee agency said on Friday that armed groups are attacking Syrian civilians as they try to flee to Jordan to escape the conflict in their country. The agency appealed to all sides in the fighting to allow them safe passage.
Hospitals in Jordan are receiving injured Syrian refugees every day, some with gunshot wounds sustained as they made their escape, said Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“Not only are they being caught in the cross-fire, they are actually being targeted,” Ms. Fleming said, declining to identify whether pro-government or rebel forces were responsible. “We are calling on all sides to allow safe passage,” she said.
It was difficult for refugees to identify their attackers because “it’s happening as they are running,” Ms. Fleming said, but “some family members were singled out en route and did no’t make it.”
The United Nations’ humanitarian affairs chief, Valerie Amos, on a visit to Syrian refugees in Jordan earlier this week, told journalists that Syria had fired mortars near the border with Jordan to stop them crossing.
Some 2,000 Syrians are escaping daily to neighboring countries and nearly 12,000 reached the Zaatri camp in northern Jordan in November, according to the refugee agency. Many arrive “visibly traumatized” by their experiences fleeing Syria and so terrified by the ordeal they did not want their stories reported, Ms. Fleming said.
Among the arrivals are families with babies less than a month old. Some Syrian women have become so desperate amid the hardships and violence in Syria they have induced the birth of their babies early to be able to make their escape, she said.