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Jordan to Host "World's Largest Refugee Camp"

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 5/25/13

Source: Al Jazeera

As violence in Syria continues, the al-Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan is on pace to become the largest in the world.


Jordan's al-Zaatari refugee camp is currently home to 160,000 Syrian refugees (Dahr Jamail/Al Jazeera)

Amman, Jordan  -- Al-Zaatari refugee camp near Jordan's northern border with Syria is the second largest refugee camp in the world. On days when violence in Syria worsens, between 2,000-4,000 Syrians flood into Zaatari, and the stories they tell are horrific.

"Things are happening in Syria that our minds couldn't even imagine," 65-year-old Nada Salim Abdullah, who has been in the camp four months, told Al Jazeera. "People were being captured and they were slaughtering them like chickens."

Abdullah, who fled his home in Deraa with his family, spoke of atrocities committed by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Other refugees told Al Jazeera of atrocities carried out by opposition forces.

Nearly half a million Syrian refugees have crossed into Jordan since the conflict began, and according to Jordan's interior ministry, the Zaatari camp is now the fifth largest population centre in the country.


Jordan's Hussein Majali (left) and UNHCR's Andrew Harper (2nd left) said the country needed more help (Dahr Jamail/Al Jazeera )

If the trend of violence in Syria generating this number of refugees continues, Zaatari will become the largest refugee camp on Earth by the end of the year. Dadaab, near the Somali border in Kenya, is often referred to as currently being the largest, and is estimated to be hosting nearly 500,000 refugees.

Needing help

"We need the UN's assistance, and we need it immediately," Jordanian Minister of Interior Hussein Majali told Al Jazeera at a press conference.

Majali, was speaking alongside UNHCR head Andrew Harper, and had nothing but high praise for the UN's efforts, but said more still needed to be done.

"We could see two million refugees in Jordan by the end of the year," Majali added. "This crisis is affecting Jordan on every level, healthcare, economically, education, all our sectors are being stressed."

Meanwhile, the rate of killing in the Syrian conflict has reached a new high.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an average of 196 people died each day in April, which is an increase from 190 per day in March.

The opposition group said there had been an increase in civilian deaths, as nearly half of the nearly 6,000 people killed last month were civilians.

Meanwhile, the refugee population of Zaatari continues to grow -- with new refugees arriving from both outside and inside the camp.

"Sources tell us there are now up to 66 births daily inside Zaatari," Majali added.

Jordan already has a large refugee population. Aside from more than 300,000 Palestinians living in refugee camps here, many Iraqis remain in Jordan as a result of the US-led invasion and occupation of their country.

Saleh al-Kilani said Jordan was desperate for more international support in the refugee crisis (Dahr Jamail/Al Jazeera)

According to the refugee affairs coordinator for Jordan's ministry of interior, Saleh al-Kilani, his country already hosted 750,000 refugees before the Syrian conflict began, and now has more than 1,250,000.

"53,000 refugees entered here in April alone," Kilani told Al Jazeera. "We also have thousands of what we call double refugees, which are Palestinian refugees who were in Syria who had to come here, in addition to Iraqi refugees in Syria who had to flee here."

Kilani said the refugee crisis is costing the Jordanian government 2,500 Jordanian Dinars (approximately $3,500) per refugee per year, and his government has already spent $826 million on the current crisis.

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www.dahrjamailiraq.com

DAHR JAMAIL He is author of the book Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq. Jamail's work has been featured on National Public Radio, the Guardian, The Nation, and The Progressive. He has received many (more...)
 

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The title of this article is misleading and does n... by Mohammad Ala on Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 8:56:09 AM