Middle East

Syria conflict: Jordan 'needs more money' for refugees

Syrians at the Za'atri refugee camp in Jordan on 30 August 2012
Image caption Jordan houses the refugees in camps - such as here in Za'atri - and local communities

Jordan has sharply increased the amount of money it says it requires from the international community to cope with the influx of refugees from Syria.

In a joint appeal with the UN's refugee agency, Jordan said it now needs $700m (£440m) to deal with the crisis. Only a few days earlier, it asked for $400m.

The request comes as fighting continues to rage across Syria, increasing the number of fleeing civilians.

Meanwhile, Algerian Lakhdar Brahimi has taken up his post of UN peace envoy.

Mr Brahimi, who took over from Kofi Annan, has sought to reduce expectations for his mission.

The BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says there is no sign of a change of heart by either party within Syria, and conditions will have to change before Mr Brahimi can step in with a workable political solution.

'Limits reached'

The humanitarian emergency on the country's borders is intensifying, with Jordan saying it is struggling to cope with the flow of refugees.

On Saturday, Planning Minister Jafaar Hassan said he expected the number of Syrians in Jordan to rise soon to 240,000, up from 180,000, putting the country's scarce water and energy sources under increased strain.

The influx, he said, was "reaching limits that the government cannot continue to shoulder".

Mr Hassan added: "We have made this joint appeal continue providing humanitarian assistance to our Syrian brothers."

Jordan's plea came as the Syrian government said it had repelled a huge attack on an air base near Aleppo on Saturday, while rebels claimed victory in another battle in the east of the country.

The rebels have increasingly targeted the air force in recent weeks, accusing it of launching attacks on cities with helicopter gunships and fighter jets.

State TV said government forces at the Rasm al-Abboud air force college near Aleppo had repelled a sustained rebel assault.

The pro-rebel Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other activists said government troops had been killed and wounded in the attack.

The Observatory also said rebels had seized another air force building in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, killing its commander and capturing at least 16 personnel.

Footage posted on the internet by activists showed captured regime officers and seized weaponry.

It is impossible to independently verify the claims, as reporting by foreign journalists is severely restricted in Syria.

Map showing camps for Syrian refugees. Total refugees: 235,368; Lebanon: 59,111; Turkey: 80,410; Jordan: 77,165; Iraq: 18,682. Source: UNHCR and Turkey, September 2012

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