AMMAN, JORDAN, JAN. 9 -- Fearing a new flood of refugees with the approach of the U.N. deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, Jordan today closed its borders until other nations guarantee to foot the bill for evacuations of foreigners home.
"As of today . . . and until further notice, we have decided not to receive any evacuees from all nationalities coming from Iraq and Kuwait unless specific plans are worked out for their departure by their governments and international bodies," said Salameh Hammad, head of a ministerial committee set up to deal with refugees fleeing the Persian Gulf crisis.
Hammad said Jordan made the decision because of a "lack of means of transport to their homelands and the non-availability of necessary food and care."
Prime Minister Mudar Badran told the legislature today that Jordan had asked Iraq not to allow foreign refugees to cross into Jordan.
Jordan estimates that up to 2 million refugees from Iran and Kuwait would flee in its direction if war breaks out.
Jordan, debt-ridden and strapped for cash, said the cost of sheltering mostly Asian and Arab workers and their families fleeing Kuwait and Iraq in the first months of the gulf crisis totaled $55 million. Officials here said the kingdom has received only $12 million in international aid.
Badran told parliament he had information that Egypt was planning to close its airspace Jan. 13. All flights heading east or west from Jordan have to fly over Egyptian or Saudi territory.
Luca Aiolfi, who heads the International Migration Organization (IOM) here, said aviation officials told his organization Tuesday that Saudi Arabia was denying clearance for flights over its territory.
"If Egypt closes down its airspace on Jan. 13 and Saudi Arabia does the same, it means evacuees will stay in Jordan, and Jordan does not have capabilities to help them," the prime minister said.
Badran also told parliament about Amman's fears of an Israeli assault against it or against Baghdad through Jordan. In the past two weeks, Jordan has moved troops and tanks toward its border with Israel, and is carrying out military exercises.
"In case of an assault, we will ask for help from Syria and Iraq, because this will be Israeli aggression on us," Badran said.