UN urged to improve Syrian refugee camp in Jordan
07/30/2012 14:40 GMT
AMMAN, July 30, 2012 (AFP) - A charity that cares for thousands of Syrians who fled violence said on Monday that the first official camp to house the refugees in neighbouring Jordan falls short of international standards.
"We demand the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) improve the Zaatari camp before moving more Syrian refugees there," said Zayed Hammad, head of the Ketab and Sunna Society.
"The camp's infrastructure does not meet international standards. The UNHCR also needs to allow experienced local charities to help provide service to the refugees."
Jordan on Sunday opened the camp with the aim of helping to host tens of thousands of Syrians who have fled escalating violence across its northern border.
The Zaatari camp in Mafraq can take up to 120,000 people, and the first batch of 500 refugees was moved to the camp late Sunday from a military-guarded housing complex in the border town of Ramtha.
"Local aid groups can help the UNHCR collect donations for the refugees. We and other charities plan to donate bathrooms for refugee women and children because the camp lacks enough bathrooms," Hammad told AFP.
The Society says it provides aid to more than 50,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, while Jordan says it hosts more than 142,000 Syrians, around 36,000 of them UN-registered.
"I would not put my family there (in the camp). The refugees deserve better, but it is a desperate situation," UNHCR representative in Jordan Andrew Harper told AFP.
"We welcome any support from the Ketab and Sunna Society and other aid groups through the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organisation."
Harper said "there is not enough money for food and we don't have enough money for water."
"We are working hard with the Jordanian government to address these issues and improve the camp. All support is welcome," he added.
Harper said the stream of Syrians pouring over the border into Jordan was continuing.
"Last night more than 2,000 crossed. Many others tried to cross but failed because they were shot at (by Syrian troops)," he said.
According to Hammad, at least 500 Syrian refugees fled to Jordan at dawn.
The conflict in Syria has killed more than 20,000 people since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad erupted in March 2011, human rights monitors say.
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