News24

Jordan expands Syrian refugee centres

2012-05-10 14:01

Amman - Jordan is expanding holding facilities for Syrian refugees amid an influx of arrivals that Jordanian authorities say has reached hundreds of people daily.

According to a security source, Jordanian authorities transferred 450 Syrian refugees on Monday to so-called Cyber City, an industrial complex on the outskirts of the border city of Ramtha that has been converted into a refugee holding centre.

Officials say the makeshift camp, established with the support of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), aims to serve as a replacement for the so-called al-Bashabsheh centre, a residential complex in the border city that previously housed illegal arrivals in what relief agencies described as "unacceptable" conditions.

In addition to Cyber City, Amman is transferring illegal arrivals to a makeshift camp in a Ramtha stadium ahead of the completion of a third transfer facility with fully furnished trailers designed to house up to 200 families.

Despite following an open-border policy, Jordanian officials transfer illegal arrivals to so-called transit facilities to run extensive background checks.

Continuous exodus

Refugees' releases are contingent on a financial guarantee signed by a Jordanian national accepting responsibility for the Syrian national during their stay in the country, a requirement that often extends refugees' stay in the holding centres for weeks.

The exodus of Syrians into Jordan is continuing, relief agencies say, with 100 Syrians crossing into the kingdom on Wednesday morning alone.

"Even with all the dangers, families are arriving by the hour," a Jordanian military source stationed in the border region said. "We just don't know where to house them."

Despite the rise in new arrivals, Amman has avoided opening official refugee camps out of fear of Damascus misinterpreting humanitarian assistance as support for rebel forces.

Jordan has granted refuge to more than 110 000 Syrians since the launch of a military crackdown on pro-democracy protests in March 2011.