Jordan opens Syria refugee tent camp

2012-07-29 18:29
A Jordanian worker walks at the first Jordanian tent camp for Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their country in Zataari, Jordan, near the Syrian border. (Mohammad Hannon, AP)

A Jordanian worker walks at the first Jordanian tent camp for Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their country in Zataari, Jordan, near the Syrian border. (Mohammad Hannon, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Zataari - Jordan opened on Sunday its first tent camp for Syrians fleeing violence in their country, as government officials said a surge of refugees left them no other choice.

Authorities had been reluctant to set up the camp, possibly to avoid angering Syrian President Bashar Assad's autocratic regime by concentrating images of civilians fleeing his military onslaught.

But with 142 000 Syrians seeking refuge in their southern neighbour and the figure growing daily by up to 2 000, Jordanian authorities said they simply had to act.

"Reality has pushed us to open this camp," Interior Minister Ghaleb Zoubi told a gathering of aid officials during the camp's opening in the hamlet of Zataari, about 11km from the Syrian border.

"We've hosted Syrians in our homes, in even larger numbers than where they have been housed in holding centres," he said. "This has created a pressure on Jordan, especially given the water and electricity shortages we face."

Jordan is one of the world's ten poorest countries in terms of water resources, and its electricity supplies have been sharply curbed due to militant bombings of a natural gas pipeline from Egypt that supplies power plants.

Feeling the weight of fresh refugees, Amman has made an appeal to the international community to help shoulder the refugee burden by providing financial assistance.

While the country has opened its schools and hospitals to care for the Syrians, it also continues to host hundreds of thousands of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees.

Later on Sunday, about 600 refugees will be admitted to the camp after they break the fast they are following for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, UNHCR representative Andrew Harper said.

Tent in the desert

Neither Jordan nor the UN originally wanted to erect the tent camp in the desert under the summer heat during Ramadan, Harper said, acknowledging however that the crisis had left them with no other option.

"We've got no choice. Jordanian communities are overwhelmed with Syrians," he said, adding that transit facilities in the country designed to host 2 000 people were now brimming with five times that number.

The new camp will initially host 5 000 refugees.

So far, the international community has shown only a tepid response to a UN appeal in March for $84m for Syrian refugees in the region.

Only one-third of that amount has been pledged. Outlays for the Zataari camp, whose 2 000 white tents alone cost $1m, were not included in the appeal.

While food, water, electricity and other amenities will also be provided, Harper said Zataari illustrated just how dire the crisis in Syria has become.

"If people want a tent in the desert, then they are really fleeing something desperate," he said.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh called the ongoing bloodshed in neighbouring Syria "a serious predicament," adding that his country was committed to helping the victims despite its meagre resources.

Syrian tragedy

He also highlighted the plight of Syrians who have made the dash across the border to Jordan.

"They are crossing through barbed-wire, sometimes being shot at, while escaping tragedy and horrific realities on the ground."

Late last Thursday, Jordanian authorities reported that the Syrian army shot dead a six-year-old Syrian boy while firing at his parents and a dozen other refugees as they tried to cross the border fence.

Other reports of Syrians wounded by their own army when fleeing the frontier have also surfaced in Jordanian media.

The UN's Harper said the tent city could be eventually expanded to hold more than 100 000 people, but that plans are needed for all eventualities.

"If this fills up, we're in deep trouble... That's a lot of people and represents a huge tragedy for Syria."

- AP

Read more on:    unhcr  |  bashar assad  |  jordan  |  syria  |  uprisings  |  syria conflict
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Cope: Zuma must listen to religious leaders

Cope has called on President Jacob Zuma to listen to religious leaders calling for him to come clean on the Nkandla saga.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Monday Sir Lowry's Pass - 12:58 PM
    Road name: N2 Westbound
    EXPECT DELAYS due to high volumes
  • Monday Somerset West - 12:58 PM
    Road name: N2 Westbound
    EXPECT DELAYS due to high volumes
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Ace

A sleek combination of technology and sophisticated design, the Samsung...

From R1799.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.