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HRW calls on Jordan to facilitate travel for Palestinians in Gaza to third countries

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Jordan to facilitate travel for Palestinians seeking to travel from Gaza to third countries in a letter sent to Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour on Monday.

"Jordan has gone to great lengths to accept and meet the needs of large numbers of refugees from across the region," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director. "Since last August, however, Palestinians from Gaza have found it increasingly difficult to get permission to transit through Jordan to travel abroad, without any explanation for the change."

She added that restrictions from the Israeli side and Egypt means Palestinians in Gaza are "virtually barred" from traveling abroad.

As an exception to its no-travel rules, Israel allows up to 100 Palestinians from Gaza to travel abroad each week by crossing from Gaza to Israel and then the West Bank and Jordan.

According to HRW, until recently, Jordan played a helpful role in facilitating this travel. Subject to a security screening, Jordan's Interior Ministry routinely issued "no-objection" letters that permitted Palestinians from Gaza to transit from the West Bank to foreign countries via Jordan.

However, HRW states that since August 2015, individuals, lawyers, and human rights organizations have found that such requests have largely been refused by Jordan or received no response.

"Those seeking transit from Gaza are seeking just that – transit," Whitson said. "Jordan certainly should control its borders but it should continue to recognize the special duties it has toward those whose freedom of movement from Gaza it has facilitated until now."

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