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Analysis of Host Community-Refugee Tensions in Mafraq, Jordan

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Between March 2011 and July 2012, more than 140,000 Syrians entered into Jordan looking for safety. 1 By the beginning of August 2012, around 15,000 of these Syrian refugees were hosted in the transit facilities of Ramtha and the tented camp of Za’atari (Mafraq), while the vast majority were scattered within the local host community. 2 With no improvements in Syria’s security situation, Syrians steadily continue to arrive in Jordan.

Mercy Corps conducted a five-day rapid assessment of the situation in the Mafraq area at the end October 2012 in order to gain a more thorough understanding of the increasing tensions between the Jordanian host communities and Syrian refugees living in the area. 3 The assessment relied on focus group interviews with members of both the Jordanian and Syrian communities. Over 45 people were consulted. Key informant interviews were also conducted with Jordanian municipal government officials, most notably the Deputy Mayor and the Director of the Municipal Water Services. Published materials from others groups working on this issue were reviewed as well.

This document lays out how and why tensions are appearing in the Jordanian border city of Mafraq. 4 The document describes several sources of tension between Syrian refugees and the host community, detailing how pre-existing mechanisms for resolving these tensions scarcely apply to the current situation. It then puts forward three implications on the future of humanitarian assistance in the area.