(IRIN) – The Jordanian government is implementing new measures to improve security for the Syrian refugees at Za’atari camp, but aid workers say the efforts are limited by funding constraints and have yet to make a difference.
The entrance to Za’atari – now Jordan’s fifth largest city – is a chaotic hodgepodge of Syrian refugees, Jordanian citizens, journalists, aid workers, vans and water trucks, with up to 10,000 visitors a day.
The camp, built to accommodate around 60,000 Syrian refugees, is now home to at least 140,000, according to the government. Some 50,000 arrived in February alone; between 1,500 and 2,000 more arrive every night.
As the numbers in Za’atari have swelled, safety and security have degenerated, with theft, fires and riots commonplace. Residents say there is palpable tension in the air; aid workers have been attacked, even hospitalized, and journalists beaten. Security is often the only item on the agenda at camp coordination meetings.
“We’ve got grave concerns for the security situation in Za’atari – not only for refugees, but also for our staff,” said Andrew Harper, representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Jordan. “That’s part of the reason we are embarking on a major programme with the security apparatus, so that they have the means to enhance security in camp… The sense of impunity must be removed.”