Record numbers of Syrians cross to Jordan as UNHCR helps ready new camp

News Stories, 25 January 2013

© UNHCR/J.Tanner
Syrian refugees wait at a UNHCR distribution centre in Za'atri refugee camp in Jordan.

ZA'ATRI CAMP, Jordan, January 25 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency said Friday that Jordan has experienced a record number of refugee arrivals, with more than 30,000 arriving at Za' atri camp since the beginning of the year.

This compares to some 16,400 in December, 13,000 in November and 10,000 in October. "Yesterday, over 4,400 Syrian refugees arrived in Za'atri camp. A further 2,000 arrived during the course of the night," UNHCR spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, said.

Many originate from the city of Dara'a and its suburbs, along with Al-Yadoudeh, Al-Harak, Enkhel, Allajah, Ataman, Dael, Busr Al-Hareer, Al-Shajarah and Sayda. They are mainly families, female-headed households and older people.

Refugees report generalized and targeted violence, property loss, lack of medical treatment with facilities closed, high price and low availability of food and fuel as combined reasons for their flight. Many report that water and electricity are only available for intermittent periods in parts of southern Syria.

UNHCR is working with the government of Jordan and partners to prepare a second major camp close to Za'atri, which will be known as Halabat camp. "We hope to open it by the end of the month. Up to 5,000 people will be accommodated initially in the camp, with a plan to increase the capacity to 30,000 people," UNHCR's Fleming said.

UNHCR staff at Za'atri are working day and night to respond to the new arrivals and the growing needs of the refugees in the camp. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of tents are being delivered by truck to the warehouses in Za'atri.

On Thursday, 31 trucks delivered tents and essential relief items during the course of the day, with hundreds of deliveries planned in the coming days. UNHCR and its partners are also increasing the staffing in the camp to cope with the high rate of new arrivals. The refugee agency estimates that the population of Za'atri currently stands at over 65,000 people.

In the past month, between seven and 10 babies were born each day in the camp, Fleming noted. "It is with great sadness that we report the death of three refugee children this week. A two-year old infant and two-month old baby died shortly after arriving at the camp. Investigations are under way to determine the cause of death. The third death was that of a two-day old baby who died following an emergency delivery," she added.

To respond to the medical needs of refugees, there are three hospitals, two intermediary health facilities, four primary health care facilities, with approximately 51 specialists and 70 nurses in place at Za'atri. All facilities have general practitioners and paramedics on site. There are several agencies and national and international non-governmental organizations with programmes supporting the health care system in the camp.

In addition to the daily new arrivals at Za'atri who are registered in the camp, in Amman UNHCR staff are registering up to 1,400 people a day. "We hope to register over 50,000 refugees in urban settings by the end of February. A new registration centre in Irbid will open soon, further increasing our registration capacity," spokesperson Fleming said.

Increased registration and outreach is resulting in more vulnerable families being identified. UNHCR and International Relief and Development have conducted over 11,000 home visits across Jordan since April 2012.

This month, 7,700 Syrian families received cash assistance in Jordan. These funds helped them pay rent, buy food, pay for heating fuel and essential items for their families. UNHCR is grateful for the strong financial support it has received so far and will continue to count on more support to offer urgently needed assistance to vulnerable families. This underlines the urgency of funds being given swiftly, so that all vulnerable families receive prompt assistance.

To date, UNHCR has registered, or issued appointments to register to 206,630 Syrians in Jordan. According to the Jordan government there are more than 300,000 Syrian refugees in the country.

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