As the UN starts a major operation to distribute much needed aid from Jordan to displaced and needy Syrians across Syria, experts say conditions are not suitable yet for the return of refugees and other displaced people.
The UN has started an operation to provide 650,000 Syrians inside Syria with humanitarian assistance. An estimated 369 trucks carrying over 11,200 metric tonnes of aid will be involved at the Jaber-Nassib crossing with Jordan, which was opened in mid-October following several years of closure.
The UN said six UN agencies and one international non-governmental organization (NGO) are participating in back-to-back deliveries that will provide one month’s worth of supplies.
Anders Pedersen, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan, called it “a major logistical operation” to “mitigate the Syrian people’s suffering.”
“We greatly appreciate the cooperation of the Jordanian authorities for their full support and commitment in making this a reality,” he said in a press statement from the UN.
Syrians urgently need food, shelter, water, medical care and sanitation. “We are working closely with our UN partners inside Syria to ensure this assistance reaches those who need it most,” Pedersen said.
Across Syria, humanitarian actors, including UN agencies and NGOs, are doing everything they can to reach some 13 million people in need – including some 6.2 million internally displaced people, wherever they are, in both government and non-government controlled areas, in line with humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, and the imperative to save lives.
"Jordan allowed the delivery of aid via its borders as it is still difficult for humanitarian agencies to reach out to displaced Syrians from inside Syrian territories," political analyst Raed Omari told 7Dnews.
"There are some pockets of rebels in some areas in the south and the delivery of aid is very difficult... allowing the entry of aid comes at the right time to help reduce the suffering of Syrians in these areas," Omari said.
Retired major general and strategic analyst Adeeb Sarayreh said Jordan has never hesitated to help the Syrians since the start of the crisis in 2011, and that allowing the delivery of aid is also due to the proximity of the Jordanian borders to many areas in the south of Syria, where Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance.
"There are millions of Syrians who are either displaced inside Syria and need shelter and aid, or who are refugees in other countries such as Jordan," Sarayreh told 7Dnews.
"Continuing the delivery of aid is a must in light of current conditions, especially to provide the proper environment for displaced Syrians and refugees to return to their hometowns," Sarayreh said.
According to official figures, there are around 1.3 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, of whom around 10 per cent live inside refugee camps.
Since the reopening of the borders between the two countries, around 30,000 Syrians refugees have returned to Syria over the border crossing.
"The numbers of Syrians returning are very modest. Jordan will not force them out and only encourages voluntary return, but at the same time the international community and all donor countries are calling for the necessary environment so they can return - and this is not yet realized," said Sarayreh.
Since March 2011, Syria has been in the throes of a conflict that has forced more than half of all Syrians to flee their homes.
According to the UN humanitarian wing, OCHA, an estimated five million Syrians have fled the country while more than six million others are internally displaced.
The crisis, described as the worst humanitarian disaster of the modern era, has left more than 13 million people in need of assistance, and caused untold suffering for Syrian men, women and children.