AMMAN: Authorities in Jordan on Tuesday estimated at more than $10 billion (Dh36.7 billion) the cost of hosting thousands of refugees displaced from neighbouring Syria since the civil war broke out there in 2011.
The UN says that some 650,000 Syrian refugees are currently being housed in Jordan, but the government puts the figure far higher at around 1.3 million people.
In a statement released on social media, the foreign ministry said “more than $10.3 billion” had been spent on putting up the refugees.
That figure covered additional expenses in sectors including health, education and employment, and also extra money spent on public services and subsidised food, it said.
Jordan, which shares a 370km border with Syria, estimates that almost $1.7 billion will be needed to cover the refugees this year.
The kingdom — which has called for the international community to do more on the crisis — has recently come under fire from Human Rights Watch for allegedly “summarily deporting” Syrian refugees.
The group said that on average some 400 refugees were being removed each month at the start of 2017 in a move that could be aimed at preventing the violence in Syria spilling over on to Jordanian territory after several armed attacks.
Authorities insisted that any return of refugees to Syria was voluntary and that they only headed to areas in the country that are considered safe.
The UN refugee agency says 93 per cent of the Syrian refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line. Around 180,000 of them are housed in two sprawling camps in the desert.
Fighting in Syria has claimed more than 330,000 lives since a brutal crackdown by the army on protesters in 2011 spiralled into all-out conflict.
The UN estimates that more than five million Syrians have been driven from the country by fighting, with the majority settling in neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.