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.
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