Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized Jordan’s decision to end medical protection for Syrian refugees living outside camps in the kingdom.

The New York-based rights body issued the criticism on Sunday, saying the move marked a step back from a decision by Amman in March to “regularize” the status of the refugees.

The decision came less than two months after authorities in January moved to revoke the eligibility of Syrians living outside camps to receive subsidized healthcare.

HRW said the new decision will affect 30,000-50,000 Syrians, requiring them to pay the same rates as other foreigners at public hospitals.

More than 650,000 Syrian refugees are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the world body’s refugee organization, in Jordan.

A Jordanian soldier stands guard as Syrian refugees, stuck between the Jordanian and Syrian borders, watch a group of them cross into Jordanian territory, near the town of Ruwaished, on May 4, 2016.

The refugees have fled their homes amid a militancy which Jordan has supported along with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the West and some other countries since 2011.

Jordan has provided training ground and safe passage to some of the most violent extremists who have traveled to Syria to fight government troops.

Bill Van Esvald, senior children’s rights researcher at HRW, said Jordan was “pulling the rug out from under refugees on health care that families are already struggling to afford.”

Jordanian officials have not explained the reasons for their decision, but have in the past pointed to the exorbitant cost of providing healthcare services to refugees.

According to HRW, Jordanian authorities have spent nearly $2.1 billion (1.7 billion euro) on health services for Syrians since the beginning of the conflict.

On Thursday, the HRW said Turkey, a known supporter of the militants, was routinely stopping and sending back groups comprising hundreds or thousands of displaced Syrians, opening fire on them on many occasions.

Human Right Watch (HRW) says Turkish forces routinely stop and send back hundreds, and at times thousands, of displaced Syrians, opening fire at them on many occasions.

The externally-displaced Syrians are then forced to return to the violence-ravaged northwestern Province of Idlib, which holds large concentrations of Takfiri terrorists, it said.



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