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Syrian refugees overwhelm camps in Jordan

Syrian refugees overwhelm camps in Jordan warns Save the Children

30 August 2012

A refugee camp in Jordan set up to house families fleeing fighting in Syria has been overwhelmed by thousands of desperate people and is now chronically underfunded, Save the Children has warned.

The number of refugees crossing the border from Syria to the Zata’ari camp in Jordan has risen hugely in recent days. Camp authorities are swamped and unable to meet refugees’ basic needs.

The Zata’ari camp was set up last month to house just 500 people, but has grown to almost 20,000, with as many as 3300 people arriving every day. Children make up 65% of the camp inhabitants, and many are experiencing a lack of basic supplies such as nutritious food and healthcare.

Save the Children New Zealand has allocated $60,000 towards the organisation‘s emergency response to the Syrian conflict. Save the Children is currently working in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, providing basic supplies, education and specialist child protection to children who have been forced from their homes.

There are fears the poor conditions in the camp could get even worse unless urgent action is taken. Save the Children is calling for funding to be made available to prevent a full-blown humanitarian crisis developing on the Jordanian side of the border.

“Families have fled the conflict in Syria, but instead of reaching safety in Jordan, they are arriving to find there is food of poor quality and limited general services. More than half of the refugees are children, and conditions in the camp are appalling,” said Ibrahim Younis, Save the Children’s Syria emergency response coordinator.

“Until funding is made available to help Syrian refugees, the situation will only deteriorate as more families arrive. The international community must step up and help these desperate families by making funding urgently available.”

The conflict in Syria is forcing more and more people from their homes, with 30,000 people believed to have fled Syria into neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq over the past week alone.

United Nations predictions of 200,000 refugees by the end of the year have already been met, but the aid effort of the humanitarian community to meet their needs in the region remains chronically underfunded, with only 33% of what is needed.

New Zealanders wishing to help children and families caught in the Syrian crisis can make a donation to Save the Children by visiting or can go to the organisation’s children’s emergency fund at:


Audio: Hedinn Halldorsson speaks as he watches women and children crossing the border into Zata’ari camp.

Save the Children’s emergency response to the Syrian conflict
Save the Children is working in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq to respond to the needs of Syrian refugees and affected host populations. Assistance includes:
Education: remedial classes for Syrian boys and girls aged 6-14 years old.
Health: awareness raising sessions focused on nutrition for new mothers and distribution of new born baby kits.
Shelter and non-food items: distribution of clothing to 5,000 Syrian children.
Child protection: Child friendly spaces are being established in North and East Lebanon and in Jordan as centres for psycho-social activities for children. Land mine risk awareness sessions and distribution of leaflets and posters are helping reduce risks to children in border areas.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): toilets in the child friendly spaces will be improved and hygiene kits will be distributed to families.


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