Jordan said on Sunday that it has taken in 800 Syrian White Helmets rescuers and their families from Israel and plans to transfer them to the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany.
“The Jordanian government said it had authorised the United Nations to organise the passage of 800 Syrian citizens through Jordan to be resettled in western countries,” the kingdom said.
“The government gave the permission after Britain, Germany and Canada made a legally binding undertaking to resettle them within a specified period of time due to ‘a risk to their lives’,” it said in an English-language statement.
“These Syrian citizens who were working in the civil defence, had fled the areas controlled by the Syrian opposition after the Syrian army’s attack in those areas.” Founded in 2013, the Syria Civil Defence, or White Helmets, is a network of first responders who rescue wounded in the aftermath of air strikes, shelling or blasts in rebel-held territory.
Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Kayed said the kingdom had accepted the members of the Syrian rescue organisation for “purely humanitarian reasons” as their lives had been at risk.
Kayed said those evacuated would stay in “a restricted area” of Jordan until they are transferred to the three countries within three months.
More than 650,000 Syrian refugees are registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan but the kingdom says it hosts 1.3 million Syrian refugees.