MOSCOW, November 24 (Sputnik) - Vulnerable refugees, including unaccompanied children and paralyzed men, have been sent back to war-torn Syria by Jordanian authorities, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Monday.
"Jordan is carrying a heavy refugee burden, but it should not be in the business of sending any refugees back to a conflict zone where their lives are threatened, much less children and wounded men who can't even walk," Nadim Houry, the organization's deputy Middle East and North Africa director, was cited as saying on HRW's official website.
According to the organization, Jordanian authorities have on several occasions sent back vulnerable Syrian refugees.
Jordan: Vulnerable Refugees Forcibly Returned to Syria http://t.co/SsHIeSfsPn— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) 24 ноября 2014
A refugee interviewed by the HRW said that Jordanian authorities sent back a group of 12 Syrians on September 16, half of whom were paralyzed, while the other half were wounded. Two of the deportees were reportedly children and most held official refugee certificates.
One of the deported refugees, a 17-year-old boy, told HRW over the phone that the 12 were not informed of the reason behind their deportation and were not allowed to contact UNHCR.
Meanwhile, a government spokesperson told the organization that Jordanian authorities closed the rehabilitation center where the Syrians were staying because the medical personnel operating it were not licensed to practice in Jordan and the refugees had been "relocated to other hospitals."
HRW also noted a case in which Jordanian border patrol officers reportedly fired at five Syrians, four of whom were minors, who were traveling on motorcycles near the Syrian border in mid-November. Though the young men managed to avoid capture, their identities were disclosed when one of them entered hospital for treatment.
The injured boy is reportedly receiving treatment at a Jordanian hospital, while the remaining four were summoned by the police and deported, despite being registered with the UN refugee agency.
HRW stated that despite not being party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, Jordan is "bound by the customary international law principle that that a country may not push back or return a refugee or asylum seeker to a country where there is a risk that the person's life or freedom would be threatened."
The organization also noted that deportations of unaccompanied children are in breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Jordan has ratified.
"Jordan should immediately facilitate the return of all deported refugees who wish to re-enter Jordan, including children who want to reunite with their families … The authorities should cease deportations and open the borders to Syrian refugees," HRW stated.
The Syrian civil war began in 2011 following anti-government uprisings. Syrian authorities are fighting a number of insurgent groups, including Islamic State extremists. According to UN estimates, the conflict has claimed some 200,000 lives, while 3.2 million people have been forced to flee the country. More than 600,000 Syrian refugees are currently in Jordan.