Jordan has acknowledged that more than 12,000 Syrian refugees have amassed at its border, awaiting entry.

The confirmation by government spokesman Mohammed Momani comes after Jordan initially dismissed a similar estimate provided by the U.N. refugee agency as exaggerated.

Momani told The Associated Press on Tuesday that "the number is 12,000, but it is increasing."

The refugees are stranded in a remote desert area on the Syrian-Jordanian border, often spending weeks or months there in what aid agencies say are deteriorating humanitarian conditions. In December, the U.N. refugee agency urged Jordan to allow the refugees to enter.

Momani says about 50 to 100 refugees are permitted entry each day, with priority given to women, children, the elderly and sick people. He says mass entry is unlikely because of security concerns.