King Abdullah: Jordan Overcapacity, One-Fifth Of Population Refugees

King Abdullah of Jordan

Jordan’s King Abdullah II recently gave an interview with CBS correspondent Scott Pelley, where he talked about ISIS and the vast refugee camps created out of the regional conflicts. The king reports that Jordan’s borders are secure against attacks from ISIS, but the country may still need support soon to help take care of all the arriving people.

Scott Pelley asked King Abdullah about the refugee situation from Syria, from where thousands of people are fleeing everyday. Jordan has generously accepted the people, who have built sprawling temporary cities in the desert.

“It’s the right thing to do, I mean, where else would the Syrians go? They’re in dire straits, that’s why today we have 1.4 million Syrian refuges in our country 20 percent or slightly more of our population.”

Pelley seemed surprised, and asked the king how long they could continue to support that influx of people.

Abdullah responded saying, “I think we are at the limit actually, and with the difficult economic conditions we’re in, it’s a tremendous burden on our country.”

Considering Jordan’s small population of just eight million and limited natural resources, the king rightfully pointed out that it is the equivalent to the U.S. taking in 60 million people. That’s a struggle that could destabilize the entire country.

Additionally, there are few prospects for the refugees to make a permanent home in Jordan. The country has a massive unemployment problem hovering at about 14 percent, and has long depended on foreign assistance. It’s economic woes will most likely get worse as the battle against ISIS gets more intense.

Moreover, the King of Jordan does not expect the fight to be easy. He says that getting ISIS out of Iraq will be the easy part, but removing them from Syria will be a much bigger struggle. According to CBS News, he estimated that it will take two years to completely destroy ISIS in Syria.

King Abdullah wasn’t all doom and gloom though. He explained that at least his borders are secure, even after engaging ISIS a number of times.

Jordan is part of the coalition against ISIS, and the tiny nation has one of the best-trained and cohesive armed forces in the region. Not to mention that they’re proximity makes Jordan a valuable staging ground for air strikes. Jordan special forces are even capable of being the boots on the ground, though there are no open commitments as of yet.

The full interview with King Abdullah of Jordan can be found here.

[Image Credit: World Economic Forum/ Wikimedia Commons]