Jordanian Government and partners open Azraq Refugee Camp
Azraq, Jordan, 30 April 2014 - The Government of Jordan officially opened the Azraq Refugee Camp today. The camp, which is located some 100km east of Amman and 20km west of the town of Al Azraq in Zarqa Governorate, has been established to provide protection to Syrian refugees who continue to cross into Jordan in search of safety.
The opening of the camp is the latest contribution by Jordan to supporting those fleeing the violence in Syria. Other camps in Jordan include Zaatari Camp, with a population of over 100,000, the Emirates Jordanian Camp with some 5,000, and King Abdullah Park with some 1,000. If the new camp is built to its full capacity it could host up to 130,000 Syrian refugees. A limited number of families – totalling some 430 individuals – have been welcomed and settled in Azraq refugee camp since Monday.
As refugees arrive in the camp, they are accommodated in insulated shelters. These solid structures offer protection against harsh weather conditions, and have avoided the need to accommodate refugees in tents, which are not suitable in Azraq's windy climate. The camp has been designed taking into account the experience gained in Zaatari and other camps in order to enhance delivery of services and protection to refugees.
The camp opening was attended by HE Nasser Judeh, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, HE General Hussein Al-Majali, Minister of the Interior, members of the Cabinet of Ministers, other senior officials of the Government and the local authorities, representatives of the diplomatic and donor community, as well as partner agencies operating in the camp.
Azraq Refugee Camp is managed by the Jordanian authorities through the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate (SRAD), in coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In total, 19 agencies are involved in addition to the Government in the provision of protection and assistance to Syrian refugees in the camp.
To date, there are 5,000 shelters ready which can accommodate 25,000 refugees. The water distribution system and sanitation facilities are operational. Police facilities have been completed and police officers deployed, including at the village level. Core relief items including blankets, mattresses, solar-powered lanterns and kitchen sets are provided to refugee families upon arrival.
Food vouchers, to be used in the camp supermarket, are distributed to refugees upon arrival. Primary health care facilities are functional. The secondary hospital structure has been completed and its services will be phased in according to the needs of the camp population. The delivery of furniture in schools is ongoing. Community centres, women and girls centres, child friendly spaces, and playgrounds are also open.
Local workers from Azraq town and surrounding areas have been hired for the construction and maintenance of the camp and humanitarian agencies continue to explore potential employment and business opportunities for the local Azraq community. Partners have also been implementing community support projects in Azraq town, in coordination with local authorities and community-based organizations, in order to ease the pressure additional populations represent on resources.
UNHCR has now registered some 600,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, while the Government of Jordan estimates that there are as many as 1.3 million Syrians in total in the country.
"The opening of Azraq camp reinforces Jordan's continuing commitment to protect people fleeing violence in Syria," said Andrew Harper, UNHCR Representative in Jordan. "Since the start of the conflict, refugees have found sanctuary in Jordan. Children have been able to attend schools, the sick have been treated in hospitals and most importantly, hundreds of thousands of people have found protection from the incessant violence. They tell us of increased physical and food insecurity inside Syria and are increasingly vulnerable when they finally reach the safety of Jordan. We are all thankful to Jordan for its support to Syrian refugees and appeal to the donor community to do much more to support the Syria refugee response in Jordan, which as of today is only 27% funded. If the international community expects Jordan to continue to be able to keep its borders open and share its limited resources then Jordan has the right to expect the international community to do more to help it achieve this goal."
Government, UN and non-governmental entities engaged in Azraq:
Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Public Works and Housing, and Ministry of Health, the following UN agencies and organizations are working in the camp: ACTED, CARE, Finn Church Aid, Handicap International, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Medical Corps (IMC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Mercy Corps, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Relief International, Save the Children Jordan, the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UNHCR, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), UN World Food Programme (WFP) and World Vision International.
Laura Gilmour: News editor/Press officer (Programme and Policy), +44 207 091 6063, firstname.lastname@example.org