As we approach the end of 2015, it’s important to recognize some of the major improvements and progress made in these past months, and years. In this case – security.
In 2013, the security situation in Zaatari was tense, but with a huge contribution from the European Union EUR12 million under the Instrument for Stability, UNHCR was able to address the safety and security needs of Syrian Refugees in Za’atari, and following on in Azraq.
The funding enabled UNHCR to extend its field presence, build the capacity of the Jordanian authorities, SRAD, in the camps both in terms of staff numbers, capacity to improve security measures and physical presence in the camps and establish a Joint Operations Center in both camps that is manned 24/7 and allows organisations and refugees to contact the SRAD or Civil Defense at any time.
In Zaatari the security situation has dramatically improved within 6 months after the EU project started, with the number of incidents dropping to a third.
The increased presence of security personnel has improved refugees’ sense of security and there are fewer reports of refugees leaving the camp for fear of insecurity. A UNHCR safety audit shows a dramatic improvement in the feeling of security by refugees. While in 2013, 64% of interviewed refugees reported feeling unsafe, in 2014 75% of female and 87% of male refugees interviewed felt safe living in and moving around the camp.
Dialogue has progressively replaced confrontation and sometimes violent interaction with humanitarian and security personnel: intimidation of humanitarian staff has decreased by 83%.
In Azraq refugee camp, where the EU funded project was operational the first day the camp opened, there has not been any major security problems to date.
On behalf of UNHCR, SRAD and the refugees we serve, thank you to the European Union as we approach the close of this project.