U.N. Refugee Chief 'Understands' Jordan Security Fears


U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Monday he fully understands the security concerns which have led Jordan to limit the flow of refugees entering the country from war-torn Syria.

"We have full appreciation and understanding for Jordan's security concerns," the UNHCR chief said on a visit to Zaatari refugee camp, near the Syrian border 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Amman.

Jordan has insisted it must screen newcomers to ensure they are genuine refugees and not jihadists seeking to infiltrate the country.

It estimates the number of refugees from Syria at 16,000, while Grandi said it has climbed to 17,000.

The kingdom is now only allowing in a few dozen refugees each day after the screening process to keep out Islamic State group jihadists, and last week it said around 16,000 were massed on the Syrian side of the border waiting to cross.

"The refugees issue continues to get tangled with the security issue. This is a reality with which we have to cope," said Grandi.

"What we are saying to the Jordanians is that once those security concerns are satisfied, once people are screened properly and it is a certain that there is no dangerous elements among them, then they should be progressively but as rapid as possible admitted to Jordanian territory," he said.

"The response that I got is very encouraging."

The Italian diplomat said Geneva would host a conference to find host countries for the refugees in March, after a fund-raising conference in London on February 4.

The U.N.'s refugee chief, on his first visit to the region since his appointment at the start of January, held talks with Jordanian officials and King Abdullah II.

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