Jordan Says Hosting Syrian Refugees Has Cost $10 Billion

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Authorities in Jordan on Tuesday estimated at more than $10 billion the cost of hosting thousands of refugees displaced from neighboring Syria since the civil war broke out there in 2011. 

The U.N. 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" (8.7 billion euros) 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 subsidized food, it said.  

Jordan, which shares a 370 kilometer (230 mile) 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 onto 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 U.N. refugee agency says 93 percent 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 spiraled into all-out conflict. 

The U.N. estimates that more than five million Syrians have been driven from the country by fighting, with the majority settling in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

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