The opening of a new refugee camp in Jordan marks a sad but significant milestone in the Syrian refugee crisis, according to the international humanitarian aid agency World Vision. The camp, which is located near the community of Azraq about 100 km east of Amman, has been under construction for several months and has the capacity to host 130,000 people.
World Vision is one of 22 agencies working in the camp and has built water and sanitation infrastructure to meet the needs of 31,000 people. The agency welcomes the opening of the camp to provide a safe space for new arrivals, particularly those with children. But given the increase in numbers of refugees into Jordan and the protracted nature of the Syrian crisis, World Vision is urging the international community to support the Government of Jordan as it works to come up with longer term solutions.
“It is heartbreaking that three years after this conflict started, the situation is still causing children and their families to have to cross borders to flee to safety,” says Conny Lenneberg, World Vision’s regional leader for the Middle East. “It’s desperately sad that we need to open another camp, but it’s significant that the United Nations and the Jordanian government are able to provide this service.”
“The journey from Syria can be long and distressing. World Vision and our partners have been working hard to ensure that this new camp is as safe, clean and comfortable for families as possible,” adds Lenneberg. “But of course, we wish there was no need for children to live in camps, or for refugees to be having to flee on such a massive scale. We want peace for Syria.”
“I visited the Azraq camp site in June 2013, and while the new camp will provide safety and shelter for thousands of Syrian refugee children and their families, it can never replace the homes and friends they left behind in Syria,” says Dave Toycen, president and CEO of World Vision Canada. “Canada and the rest of the global community must continue to support efforts to end the conflict and to help the millions of people who have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries.”
Facts on the Syrian refugee crisis and humanitarian response:
- Approximately 600 people enter Jordan as refugees every day. The camp at Za'atari, which is Jordan’s primary refugee facility, is already home to nearly 100,000 people, and more than 450,000 are living in communities around the country, many without access to basic services.
- The Jordanian government, the United Nations and aid agencies have designed the camp with safety, comfort and cultural considerations in mind. Families will live in shelters, not tents, and there will be more water and sanitation facilities per family than were initially available at Za’atari. Schools and playgrounds have already been built for children.
- To date, the Government of Canada has committed $353 million in humanitarian assistance to the Syrian refugee crisis, including $46 million earmarked for assistance in Jordan.