Feedback
News

'What are you waiting for?': Angry Syrians demand action from Kerry at refugee camp

Secretary of State John Kerry greets Syrian refugees during a joint meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan on Thursday.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan -- Angry Syrians demanding U.S. action over the civil war in their homeland met Secretary of State John Kerry as he visited a refugee camp in Jordan early Thursday.

“What are you waiting for?” asked a woman. “Where is the international community? We hope that you will not go back to the [United] States before you find a solution to the crisis. At least impose a no-fly zone or an embargo."

She was among six refugees invited to meet Kerry in a room at the sprawling and increasingly lawless United Nations camp, which is located a few miles from the Syria/Jordan border. 

Kerry is on a diplomatic tour of the Middle East – his sixth so far this year - and was joined by Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. 

During the 40-minute meeting, the woman warned him that refugees were growing impatient and could return to fight in the civil war, which the U.N. estimates has killed more than 90,000 since it began in 2011.

"If the situation remains unchanged until the end of Ramadan, this camp will become empty,” she said. “We will return to Syria and we will fight with knives. You as the U.S. government look to Israel with respect. Can you not do the same with the children of Syria?"

Kerry assured her that "a lot of different options are under consideration.”

“I wish it was very simple," he said. "As you know, we've been fighting two wars for 12 years. We are trying to help in various ways, including helping Syrian opposition fighters have weapons. We are doing new things. There is consideration of buffer zones and other things but it is not as simple as it sounds."

Kerry added that many young Americans had died or lost their limbs "fighting for the freedom of Iraq" and "fighting for the freedom of Afghanistan."

Another woman complained to Kerry about Iran and Hezbollah providing aid to the regime of Syria’s president, Bashar Assad.

Kerry assured her: "You are absolutely correct. I am very concerned about Hezbollah and Iran. We are talking about that now. We are not happy with it."

In opening remarks to the six refugees, he wished them all “Ramadan Kareem” and thanked them for their “willingness to share with us … the concerns you have.”

“I know this is a terrible time and I'm very sorry that you are all with your families going through what are going through,” he said.

Speaking to reporters later, Kerry said the refugees were “frustrated and angry at the world for not stepping in and helping.”

Kerry said: “I explained to them that I don’t think it’s as cut and dry and simple as some of them look at it, but if I were in their shoes, I’d be looking for help from wherever I could find it.

“I think that President Obama has made certain that the USA is doing a huge amount here and the American people should be very proud of the amount of their contribution to what is happening here.

“It’s not easy, but I share their passion and frustration for the plight that they face on a day-to-day basis, the destruction of their homes, their villages, their cities and the loss in many cases of many members of their families. So, this is not easy. That’s why we’re all working to try to find a solution."

NBC News’ Alastair Jamieson contributed to this report.

Related: