Jordan calls in the army after Zaatari aid workers are attacked

Published January 8th, 2013 - 09:41 GMT
Zaatari camp on Tuesday after the rains hit (picture courtesy of UNICEF).
Zaatari camp on Tuesday after the rains hit (picture courtesy of UNICEF).

Riots in Zaatari refugee camp in the north of Jordan have lead to the army being called in, reports from the camp suggest.

The move came just hours after aid workers were attacked, as refugees protested against poor living conditions, Sky News reported. The camp has faced heavy rain and strong winds since Sunday evening.

A state of emergency was declared due to the weather, with 50 tents reportedly underwater and several swept away. Refugees in the flooded areas are being move to the on-site school and container 'caravans'.

The camp, situated near Mafraq, is home to 60,000 Syrians and has seen frequent protests over living conditions. On January 2, refugees rioted when the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organiastion handed out blankets.

In the first six days of 2013, 9,000 people crossed from Syria in to Jordan and were placed in the camp, with over 22,000 crossing since December 1. Agencies dealing with the refugees were forced to increase staff numbers to keep up with the influx.

Bad weather has lead to a decrease in the numbers crossing, last night 427 crossed, compared to 923 the previous night. Yesterday 157 people returned voluntarily to Syria.

Snow is forecast for the end of the week in Jordan and despite a process of “winterization”,  refugees still fear the onset of colder nights. 

Bad weather has been affecting the Kingdom since Sunday, with heavy rain causing problems in the capital, Amman.

A state of emergency has been issued in the city by the municipal authority who are compiling a list of tunnels to be avoided due to flooding and have all their staff working on clearing drains. 

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.

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