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Middle East

Jordan to open new refugee camp as number of arrivals surges

  • A Syrian refugee child plays at Alzaatri Syrian refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, March 8, 2014. (REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed)

GENEVA: The U.N.refugee agency said Tuesday it would welcome the opening of a third Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, as the number of Syrians crossing the border has swelled to around 600 a day.

Speaking in Geneva, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said the agency “welcomes a decision this week by the Jordanian government to open the country’s third refugee camp – Azraq – a few weeks from now, on April 30.”

The camp, located 100 kilometers east of Amman, will help to relieve some of the pressure on Jordan’s main Zaatari camp, which is at capacity, he said.

“The opening will be timely as the past weeks have seen the numbers of people crossing the border increasing by 50 percent to an average of approximately 600 daily,” Edwards added.

He said the hike in arrivals, combined with the fact that fewer refugees were opting to return to Syria, was “putting strains on Zaatari,” which currently hosts some 100,000 refugees.

The new camp will initially house a relatively small number of refugees, but will eventually accommodate up to 130,000 people, Edwards said.

The camp, which will receive up to 2,000 refugees each day, has already been equipped with shelters to house 13,000 people and enough bathrooms and other sanitation facilities to service 30,000 people.

More than 100 kilometers of roads had been built, as had a water distribution system, two schools and a secondary-level 130-bed hospital, he said.

Jordan is currently home to nearly 585,000 registered Syrian refugees, according to official UNHCR figures.

Only about 20 percent of that number are currently housed in camps, with the remaining 80 percent living in urban areas throughout the country, the agency said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 12, 2014, on page 8.
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Summary

The U.N.refugee agency said Tuesday it would welcome the opening of a third Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, as the number of Syrians crossing the border has swelled to around 600 a day.

The new camp will initially house a relatively small number of refugees, but will eventually accommodate up to 130,000 people, Edwards said.

The camp, which will receive up to 2,000 refugees each day, has already been equipped with shelters to house 13,000 people and enough bathrooms and other sanitation facilities to service 30,000 people.


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