Syrian refugees protest U.N. envoy's visit
AMMAN, Jordan -- Syrian refugees in Jordan protested a Tuesday visit to their desert camp by the U.N.'s international Syria envoy, with some pelting his entourage's vehicles with stones in a reflection of frustration at his mission's seeming inability to end their country's civil war.
Lakhdar Brahimi, who visited another camp in Turkey the same day, has himself called his task "nearly impossible." But some in the Zaatari camp in the Jordanian desert shouted slogans implying that his initiative, which involves meetings with Syrian President Bashar Assad, only legitimizes the embattled Damascus regime.
"Leave our camp. By seeing Bashar, you've extended his life," some 200 refugees chanted. Teenagers threw rocks at the vehicles of officials as they departed, according to an Associated Press reporter at the camp. U.N. refugee agency spokesman Ali Bebe confirmed there was a protest, but said he did not see stones thrown.
Jordan hosts more than 200,000 displaced Syrians -- the largest number in the region. The 31,000 residents of the Zaatari camp have frequently protested against conditions in their settlement, located on a treeless plain in the country's north. Jordan says the huge influx of Syrians has put pressure on its infrastructure and social services.
Brahimi also toured a camp in the Turkish border province of Hatay. Dozens of Syrian refugees demonstrated outside the camp, waving a rebel flag and denouncing Assad.
Some 83,000 refugees have found shelter in 12 camps along the Turkish border with Syria.
Brahimi said it appeared refugees were being treated well in Turkey and that he hoped for an end to the violence.
"We hope that their country finds peace again and they can return to their country as early as possible," he said.
Also Tuesday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry brushed off Syrian accusations that it was allowing thousands of Muslim extremists to cross into its territory.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Selcuk Unal told reporters that Turkey may not even respond to letters Syria sent to the U.N. Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accusing Turkey of allowing thousands of terrorists access to the country.
"Instead of leveling complaints and making false accusations against various countries, including ours, Syria should look at the situation inside the country and take the necessary steps to correct the situation," Unal said.