LONDON (Reuters) - Jordan’s King Abdullah says his country needs long-term aid from the international community to cope with a huge influx of Syrian refugees, warning that unless it received support the “dam is going to burst”.
In an interview with the BBC aired on Tuesday, King Abdullah said the refugee crisis was overloading Jordan’s social services and threatening regional stability. Jordan has already accepted more than 600,000 U.N.-registered Syrian refugees.
“Jordanians are suffering from trying to find jobs, the pressure on infrastructure and for the government, it has hurt us when it comes to the educational system, our healthcare. Sooner or later I think the dam is going to burst,” he said.
Last Thursday, officials said the European Union would promise some 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) at an international donor conference to be held in London this week to aid Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said last month he would press the EU to relax export rules for Jordan, to help spur economic growth.
“This week is going to be very important for Jordanians to see is there going to be help not only for Syrian refugees but for their own future as well,” King Abdullah told the BBC.
Part of the U.S.-led coalition that is bombing Syria, Jordan has long been praised for helping refugees and been a big beneficiary of foreign aid as a result.
However, it has drawn criticism from western allies and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees over the situation near its border with Syria, where thousands of refugees are being kept far from any aid.
The situation has deteriorated since Russia started air strikes last September to support President Bashar al-Assad.
King Abdullah said if Jordan was not helped, the refugee crisis would worsen.
“The international community, we’ve always stood shoulder to shoulder by your side. We’re now asking for your help, you can’t say no this time,” he said.
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Katharine Houreld