(WASHINGTON) — On a brief visit to a the Za’atari refugee camp in northern Jordan on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry sat down with a small group of Syrian refugees who angrily demanded more help from the U.S. to stop the bloodshed in their homeland.
“Where is the international community? What are you waiting for?” asked one of the women who declined to give her name. “We hope that you will not go back to the states before you find a solution to the crisis. At least impose a no fly zone or an embargo.”
Kerry said Washington was considering a lot of options.
“I wish it was very simple,” he said. “As you know, we’ve been fighting two wars for 12 years. We are trying to help in various ways, including helping Syrian opposition fighters have weapons. We are doing new things. There is consideration of buffer zones and other things but it is not as simple as it sounds.”
After the meeting, Kerry spoke to reporters, acknowledging that the refugees were furious that the rest of the world appeared to be sitting on the sidelines. “I explained to them I don’t think it’s as cut and dry and as simple as some of them look at it,” he said. “But if I were in their shoes I would be looking for help from wherever I could find it.”
The sprawling Za’atari camp has become Jordan’s fifth largest city, home to at least 120,000 Syrian refugees and still growing. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said this week that the Syrian crisis had become the world’s worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. People are pouring out of Syria at a staggering rate of 6,000 per day, according to the UNHCR.
During Kerry’s visit, the State Department announced Thursday morning that the U.S. has provided a total of $815 million in humanitarian assistance through the U.N., including $147 million specifically for refugees living in Jordan.
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