U.N. says record number of Syrians fleeing to Jordan

The United Nations says a record number of Syrians escaping conflict have crossed into Jordan. (Reuters)

The United Nations on Friday (January 25) said a record number of Syrians fleeing conflict in their country, had escaped to neighboring Jordan.

More than 30,000 Syrians have arrived in Jordan’s main Zaatri camp this year, Melissa Fleming, chief spokeswoman for the Office of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing in Geneva.

“We have experienced a record number of refugees crossing into Jordan and just since the beginning of this year -- and we are still in January -- 30,000 people have crossed the border into Jordan. Just by comparison there were little more than half of that number in December, and less than that in November,” Fleming said.

Most of them were fleeing fighting in the southern area of Deraa.

“Just yesterday, 4,400 refugees arrived in the Zaatri camp, and in the course of the night another 2,000 arrived. It’s just absolutely dramatic the inflow of people coming into Jordan. Most of them originate from Deraa, which, if you’re familiar with the map, is just over the border, and its suburbs,” Fleming told a news conference.

Turkey, which also hosts refugees from Syria, has said that camps are filling up as soon as they are built and officials in Jordan said this week it would keep its borders open but wanted other countries to help it boost its ability to cope with the influx.

The UNHCR said it was preparing a second camp along with the Jordanian government.

“It is close to the Zaatri camp which you are all familiar with, and it will be called Halabat. Hopefully by the end of this month, which is very soon, it will be open and up and running, and 5,000 people will be accommodated, with the plan to increase the capacity to 30,000,” Fleming said.

Jordan now hosts more than 206,000 Syrians who have registered as refugees or await processing, while the government says that more than 300,000 Syrians are actually in the country.

A further 30,000 Syrians could be preparing to head to Jordan, according to the UNHCR’s latest assessment.

Across the region, 678,540 Syrian refugees had registered or were being processed as of Tuesday, according to UNHCR figures for Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and North Africa.

Last Update: Monday, 04 March 2013 KSA 08:47 - GMT 05:47