Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, over 2.5 million refugees have fled the country. Jordan, which shares a border with its embattled neighbour, is now home to 600,000 registered Syrian refugees. Many more are arriving every day.
Zaatari Camp, which is situated near the Syrian border roughly 6 miles east of Mafraq, has an estimated population of 144,000, making the camp the 4th largest city in Jordan. The camp was initially designed to hold 60,000 but had to be expanded due to the unforeseen number of refugees. Despite this, it is full to capacity and resources are under severe strain.
To help shelter the ever increasing number of Syrians, the Jordanian Government and the UN have worked together to build a new camp, 12 miles west of the town of Azraq. Lessons have been learnt from the situation at Zaatari and though there is only a handful of refugees in Azraq Camp (barely 500) the site has shelters for 25,000 and resources for double that. In addition, the camp can be expanded to house up to 130,000 refugees if necessary.
UNHCR head at Azraq Camp, Bernadette Castel told the BBC: “We've studied what's been done in Zaatari and other refugee camps around the world and tried to plan carefully. It's not a luxury that we normally have - to prepare for months with our partners."
Furthermore, in a bid to try and help the Syrian refugees form their own communities and take ownership of their shelter, Azraq Camp is decentralised. It is currently divided into four districts, each of which can house up to 15,000 people. In addition, each area has its own school, children’s play areas and medical clinics. These are bolstered by a central Red Cross hospital for serious medical cases and a supermarket that accepts vouchers from the World Food Programme.
Security is also a major feature and a police station has been built on a hillside overlooking the vast encampment. According to the BBC, crime and lawlessness are real issues plaguing other camps in the region. "We’ve learnt that the police officers should be here before the refugees so that there is security from the time they first arrive at the camp," said Jordanian official Col Atef al-Amoush.
"Security is our priority. We have different branches of police to help us secure the camp in a good way."
From now on, refugees arriving in Jordan will be taken to Azraq Camp, unless they have family elsewhere. When they arrive at the camp, they will be registered and then given a week’s food rations. Basic household items will also be made available.
To date, Muslim Aid has managed to get food, equipment and medical supplies to Syrian refugees in northern Jordan. Recent work has also seen hygiene packs distributed to some 3,500 families. However, with no end in sight to the civil war and many more Syrians crossing the neighbouring borders every day, we need your donations to help us provide aid for Syria and help support and secure the health and well-being of those fleeing the conflict.