AMMAN: Jordan denied Tuesday a U.N. report that organized crime is rife in the country’s Zaatari camp, which hosts 130,000 Syrian refugees.
“There is no such thing as organized crime in Zaatari; there are petty crimes and petty theft,” Brig. Waddah Hmud, head of the Syrian refugee department, told AFP.
“Organized crime needs planning in advance and this we did not see in Zaatari.”
UNHCR, said last week that “both organized crime networks and Syrian opposition groups operate in the camp and use it to pursue their financial and political objectives.”
It dubbed Zaatari “lawless in many ways,” saying a focus on infrastructure had come at the expense of ensuring it functioned as a community.
“As a result, the camp’s resources are constantly stolen or vandalized,” it said, adding that numerous requests to beef up security had failed to work.
Jordan is home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees, and at least 70 percent of them are women and children, the U.N. says.
While saying there was no evidence of organized crime, Hmud said there was another problem – “families who offer their daughters for early marriage, especially teenagers.”
Some refugees in Jordan are offering their daughters for early marriage in the hope of securing them protection as they face growing economic pressure and other problems.
Mexican actor and Oxfam global ambassador Gael Garcia Bernal visited the camp Tuesday and urged the world to do more to help.
“Aid is essential for these people. There’s not enough coming, despite the promises from the international community,” an Oxfam statement quoted Garcia as saying.
“And, more importantly, the people I met want peace. They want to return to their home country to rebuild their future. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is and help these people, whose only dream is to return to life in their own country.”