From my trip over the weekend to Jordan.Posted by Dr. Ben Carson on Monday, November 30, 2015
In line with his habit of making exaggerated — mostly bogus — statements, Ben Carson said Syrian refugees do not need to come to the United States because the camps that he recently visited in Jordan are “really quite nice.”
The Republican presidential candidate spent his Thanksgiving weekend meeting refugees in the Middle East. While he argued there was a lot more the U.S. could do to help the displaced people, Carson maintained taking in more people was not a good idea.
“There’s so many people who think the ideal for everybody is to come to America and be resettled here, but that is not the ideal for everybody,” he told CNN. “But they are satisfied to be in the refugee camps if the refugee camps are adequately funded. Recognize that in these camps they have schools, they have recreational facilities that are really quite nice. And there are all kind of things that make life more tolerable.”
To an extent, Carson is right about refugees wanting to resettle in their own country. Of course people want to return to their homeland but it’s only possible when the civil war is over. After all, their primary — and for many, the only reason — to leave Syria is the conflict that has engulfed the country for more than four years now.
Considering the reign of terror isn’t going to be over anytime soon, the people fleeing Syria, therefore, need help from other countries, especially from world powers like the U.S. and European Union.
As per a September report by Amnesty International, Jordan hosts nearly 650,000 refugees from Syria, which amounts to about 10% of the population. And while the neighboring country has set up various camps for the rehabilitation of asylum-seekers, the conditions there, unlike what Carson suggested, are not that nice. In fact, they are deplorable.
More than 80% of Syrian refugees in Jordan are living below the local poverty line, according to Amnesty. In addition, a recent United Nations Refugee Agency assessment in Jordan found over 520,000 Syrians are living outside the country's refugee camps with “86 percent of those in urban and rural areas are now living below the poverty line.”
At Zaatari, which is largest Syrian camp in Jordan housing more than 100,000 refugees, vulnerable women face sexual abuse while many others are being forced into prostitution.
"I feel imprisoned here," UNHCR quotes Hind, a refugee from Damascus who lives with her husband and three young children in a storage unit in the northern Jordanian city of Mafraq. "We don't go out, we don't do anything… We have lost any hope we had left for the future."
The life in these camps is particularly taking a toll on children. “Syrian refugees as young as 3 years old are being exploited illegally as child labor by farmers and companies in Jordan,” BBC reported in November.
Tamkeen, a child development charity found exploitation of minors in refugee camp is rife throughout Jordan, estimating “46% of Syrian refugee boys and 14% of girls aged 14 or over are working more than 44 hours a week.”
There is a reason so many people from Syria are risking their lives to reach Europe and the U.S. They are fleeing the Middle East because they are unsafe.
Like a lot of other things he has said during the course of his presidential campaigning, Ben Carson is wrong about the refugees in Jordan.