The berm

Venture Explains: The Berm

What is it?  Aid agencies say around 75,000 Syrian refugees have amassed in a buffer zone around the berm and are unable to pass into Jordan or receive adequate aid as the border was recently sealed off by the Jordanian army.

Why was the border closed? In late June, a suspected ISIS militant from Syria drove an explosives-laden car across the border and rammed it into a Jordanian military post at the Rukban crossing close to the berm, killing six soldiers. The Jordanian army immediately declared the northern and northeastern border strip with Syria a closed military zone.

What has the response of aid agencies been? Writing in The New York Times last month, Jason Cone, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders in the United States, said: “While Jordan’s legitimate military and security concerns must be considered, they must also be balanced against the urgent imperative to save lives … Moving the people in immediate need of protection, along with vulnerable women, children, and the elderly, either into Jordan or to another safe country, is the only option.”

Will the border be reopened anytime soon? Unlikely, given the ferocious Syrian conflict is showing no sign of abating and Jordan has stressed that maintaining border security is a paramount concern in light of the suspected ISIS attack. “Such heinous terrorist acts will only make us more determined to carry on with our fight against terrorism and its groups who plotted in the dark against the men who protect the country and its borders,” HM King Abdullah said.