Date set for new camp opening in Jordan

Briefing Notes, 11 March 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 11 March 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR welcomes a decision this week by the Jordanian Government to open the country's third refugee camp Azraq in a few weeks from now on 30 April. Azraq is located nearly 100 kilometres east of Amman in Zarqa governorate. The camp will initially house relatively small numbers of refugees but will eventually be able to accommodate up to 130,000 people.

The opening will be timely as the past weeks have seen the numbers of people crossing the border increasing by 50 per cent to an average of approximately 600 daily. This increase, combined with a lower number of spontaneous returns to Syria, is putting strains on Za'atari, the main camp hosting Syrian refugees in Jordan. Zaatari is currently hosting some 100,000 residents, close to its capacity.

Preparations are underway at the Azraq camp to accommodate newly arrived refugees and provide them with necessary assistance, services and protection support. The 22 partners, including governmental counterparts and humanitarian agencies, are mobilizing human resources and are activating their preparedness plans to be operational by the set date.

To date, over 2,500 shelters have been completed and could accommodate the first 13,000 refugees; 103 km of roads have been built and services areas covering more than 447,000 sq. meters have been constructed. Some 2,000 sanitation facilities, covering the needs of 30,000 refugees, have been completed as well as the water distribution system. Two schools, as well as playgrounds, child and adolescent friendly spaces are available. With health support, for the moment one health post has been completed and a secondary-level 130-bed hospital is ready. The camp will have a reception capacity of up to 2,000 refugees per day.

Once opened, the camp, which is located in eastern part of Jordan and 90 kilometres away from the Syrian border, will receive new arrivals from Syria and refugees already in the country willing to be reunited with newly arrived families.

H.E. Hussein Al-Majali, the Jordanian Minister of Interior visited the camp yesterday with the UNHCR's Representative Andrew Harper.

To date, there are 584,600 Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR in Jordan. 80 per cent of refugees live in urban areas throughout the country and the remaining 20 per cent live in one of the four existing refugee camps and settlements located in the northern part of Jordan.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Amman: Helene Daubelcour on mobile +962 79 889 1307
  • In Geneva: Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 9120
  • In Geneva: Dan McNorton on mobile +41 79 217 3011



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

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Refugees Onward JourneyPlay video

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Refugees Onward Journey

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.
Croatia: Sunday Train ArrivalsPlay video

Croatia: Sunday Train Arrivals

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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Croatia; Destination Unknown