9,000 Syrians flee to Jordan in only six days, UN reports
A Syrian refugee woman sells vegetables at the Zaatari refugee camp, (AFP PHOTO/KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
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As Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad made his speech in the opera hall in Damascus, the United Nations reported that 9,000 refugees had crossed in to Jordan in the first six days of 2013.
The large influx has forced the UN teams dealing with the situation to increase the number of staff dealing with the new arrivals.
Andrew Harper, the UNHCR’s representative to the Hashemite Kingdom, tweeted on Sunday that 22,000 Syrians have crossed since December 1.
Officials say that the current influx is caused by fierce fighting in the Dara’a region, which is only a few kilometres from the border, although recent arrivals have come from as far as Aleppo.
Fears are growing for the condition of the Zaatari camp, which still remains a tent city with few facilities. With a capacity of 60,000, Zaatari is now holding 62,000 people as winter sets in. The first snow fall of the winter season is expected by the end of the week.
Despite a process of “winterization”, refugees still fear the onset of colder nights.
"The Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation" was giving away 2,000 blankets at the Zaatari camp. Some refugees tried to grab more blankets, angering other Syrians and clashes broke out," Anmar Hmud, a government spokesman for refugee affairs, told AFP.
Jordan maintains an open border policy, allowing Syrians to cross freely and seek refugee. It is thought that 290,000 are now in the Kingdom, with the vast majority of the refugees residing in the villages and towns along the border.