Syria â€“ doubling of refugees fleeing to Jordan
The pace of arrivals from the Syrian border to the Za’atri camp in the north of Jordan has doubled in the past week. 10,200 people arrived in the seven days between 21-27 August compared to 4,500 the previous week. More than 22,000 people have been received at Za’atri since it opened on 30 July.
Refugees say many thousands more are waiting to cross amid violence around Daraa and we believe this could be the start of a much larger influx. Some of those who have crossed in recent days (especially Friday) report being bombed by aircraft. There are also reports of shelling, mortars and other weapons-fire.
Typically, refugees cross the border at night and are taken straight to the camp by IOM and the Jordanian army. But 1,147 refugees arrived yesterday (Monday) morning and were followed by another 1,400 overnight and early this morning.
Most of the arrivals over the past week have come from the governorate of Daraa, including the villages of Mahjeh, Kherbet Ghazala, Tafas, Dael, Hrak, Al Sawar (also known as Sura), Msefria, and Hayt. Many refugees report being displaced up to five or six times inside Syria before they fled the country.
We have received in the camp over the past week an increased number of unaccompanied children. Some children report that their parents have died, or are staying behind in Syria to look after relatives, or are working in other countries. Some children, who did not have passports, said they were sent ahead of their parents who will follow later.
UNHCR, alongside its partner the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization, is racing to meet the humanitarian needs of the rapidly expanding refugee population at Za’atri with shelter, food, water and healthcare. We are urgently pitching more tents and expanding the camp, preparing new ground with a base course of fine gravel to help control dust at the site. Seventeen trucks have been dispatched from our regional warehouse in Zarqa to reinforce stocks of tents and blankets.
The fast pace of arrivals has affected our efforts to improve conditions for the existing population, but work on this continues. Over the past few days our staff and NGO partners have been identifying people among the refugee population to serve on committees so refugees can be involved in the running of the camp. We are planning to build a second road into the camp to ease congestion on the narrow road which currently provides the only entry and exit point.