New camp due to open in Jordan as numbers continue to rise

Briefing Notes, 25 January 2013

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 25 January 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Jordan has experienced a record number of refugees crossing, with over 30,000 arriving in Za'atri camp since the beginning of the year. This compares to 16,413 in December, 13,000 in November, and 10,000 in October.

Yesterday over 4400 Syrian refugees arrived in Za'atri camp. A further 2000 arrived during the course of the night.

Many originate from 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 elderly people. Refugees report generalised 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 five thousand people will be accommodated initially in the camp, with a plan to increase the capacity to 30,000 people.

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. Yesterday 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 partners are also increasing the staffing in the camp to cope with the high rate of new arrivals. We estimate that the population of Za'atri currently stands at over 65,000 people.

In the past month, between seven and ten babies were born each day in the camp. Every day, families arrive at Za'atri with very young babies. 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 underway to determine the cause of death. The third death was that of a two-day old baby who died following an emergency delivery due to the mother suffering pre-eclampsia.

To respond to the medical needs of refugees, there are three hospitals, two intermediary health facilities, four primary healthcare 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 NGOs 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.

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 Government of Jordan there are over 300,000 Syrian refugees in the country.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Abu Dhabi: Mohammed Abu Asaker (Regional Spokesman, Arabic) on mobile + 971 50 621 3552
  • In Amman: Tala Kattan on mobile: +962 79 978 3186
  • Ali Bibi on mobile: +962 7777 11118
  • In Beirut: Dana Sleiman on mobile: +961 3827 323
  • In Geneva: Adrian Edwards on mobile: +41 79 557 9120
  • Sybella Wilkes on mobile +41 79 557 9138



UNHCR country pages

Thousands of desperate Syrian refugees seek safety in Turkey after outbreak of fresh fighting

Renewed fighting in northern Syria since June 3 has sent a further 23,135 refugees fleeing across the border into Turkey's southern Sanliurfa province. Some 70 per cent of these are women and children, according to information received by UNHCR this week.

Most of the new arrivals are Syrians escaping fighting between rival military forces in and around the key border town of Tel Abyad, which faces Akcakale across the border. They join some 1.77 million Syrian refugees already in Turkey.

However, the influx also includes so far 2,183 Iraqis from the cities of Mosul, Ramadi and Falujjah.

According to UNHCR field staff most of the refugees are exhausted and arrive carrying just a few belongings. Some have walked for days. In recent days, people have fled directly to Akcakale to escape fighting in Tel Abyad which is currently reported to be calm.

Thousands of desperate Syrian refugees seek safety in Turkey after outbreak of fresh fighting

Cold, Uncomfortable and Hungry in Calais

For years, migrants and asylum-seekers have flocked to the northern French port of Calais in hopes of crossing the short stretch of sea to find work and a better life in England. This hope drives many to endure squalid, miserable conditions in makeshift camps, lack of food and freezing temperatures. Some stay for months waiting for an opportunity to stow away on a vehicle making the ferry crossing.

Many of the town's temporary inhabitants are fleeing persecution or conflict in countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. And although these people are entitled to seek asylum in France, the country's lack of accommodation, administrative hurdles and language barrier, compel many to travel on to England where many already have family waiting.

With the arrival of winter, the crisis in Calais intensifies. To help address the problem, French authorities have opened a day centre as well as housing facilities for women and children. UNHCR is concerned with respect to the situation of male migrants who will remain without shelter solutions. Photographer Julien Pebrel recently went to Calais to document their lives in dire sites such as the Vandamme squat and next to the Tioxide factory.

Cold, Uncomfortable and Hungry in Calais

Abdu finds his voice in Germany

When bombs started raining down on Aleppo, Syria, in 2012, the Khawan family had to flee. According to Ahmad, the husband of Najwa and father of their two children, the town was in ruins within 24 hours.

The family fled to Lebanon where they shared a small flat with Ahmad's two brothers and sisters and their children. Ahmad found sporadic work which kept them going, but he knew that in Lebanon his six-year-old son, Abdu, who was born deaf, would have little chance for help.

The family was accepted by Germany's Humanitarian Assistance Programme and resettled into the small central German town of Wächtersbach, near Frankfurt am Main. Nestled in a valley between two mountain ranges and a forest, the village has an idyllic feel.

A year on, Abdu has undergone cochlear implant surgery for the second time. He now sports two new hearing aids which, when worn together, allow him to hear 90 per cent. He has also joined a regular nursery class, where he is learning for the first time to speak - German in school and now Arabic at home. Ahmed is likewise studying German in a nearby village, and in two months he will graduate with a language certificate and start looking for work. He says that he is proud at how quickly Abdu is learning and integrating.

Abdu finds his voice in Germany

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A transit centre at Vinojug, on FYR Macedonia's border with Greece is where the refugees and migrants pass through on their journey further into Europe. Here UNHCR and partner organisations provide food, water, medical care, psycho-social support and information for refugees who take the train towards the border with Serbia. UNHCR also provides information on how to access the asylum system in the country. In recent weeks, an average of 6,300 refugees pass through the camp every day, yesterday that number grew to 10,000, a record.
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On Sunday a train of 1800 refugees and migrants made their way north from the town of Tovarnik on Croatia's Serbian border. They disembarked at Cakovec just south of Slovenia. Most of the people are Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi. Their route to Western Europe has been stalled due to the closing of Hungarian borders. Now the people have changed their path that takes through Slovenia. Croatia granted passage to over 10,000 refugees this weekend. Croatian authorities asked Slovenia to take 5000 refugees and migrants per day. Slovenia agreed to take half that number. More than a thousand of desperate people are being backed up as result, with more expected to arrive later Monday.
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