Kerry backs Jordan aid call for Syria refugees
AMMAN - Agence France-Presse
Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh (R) welcomes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry upon his arrival at the Royal Palace in Amman, to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah, November 7, 2013.US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Thursday for more international aid to help cash-strapped Jordan cope with hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.
"The United States will continue to assist Jordan in dealing with the crisis of Syrian refugees," a palace statement quoted Kerry as telling Jordan's King Abdullah II at a meeting in Amman.
"The United States will also continue to encourage the international community to have a bigger role and face its responsiblities in this issue," said Kerry, on a regional tour to push for Middle East peace.
Jordan is home to around 500,000 Syrian refugees -- equal to eight percent of the population -- including more than 100,000 at the desert Zaatari camp near the border.
The United Nations has estimated the cost of hosting the refugees in Jordan for this year and 2014 at $5.3 billion (3.9 billion euros).
Amman says the influx has placed a huge burden on already overstretched water and power supplies as well as housing and education, while unemployed Jordanians face tough competition from Syrians for jobs.
The king said on Sunday the problem is depleting Jordan of its scarce natural resources, and called for international assistance.
During a visit to Jordan in March, US President Barack Obama announced an aid package of $200 million for Jordan to help the kingdom care for Syrian refugees.