UNHCR chief Guterres and Angelina Jolie visit refugees in Jordan


(UNHCR) – High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie met with Syrian refugees on Tuesday during a visit to the Za’atri camp in Jordan. Guterres said the “camp needs massive international funding” and that “the conditions are still not acceptable.”

As well as showing solidarity with the refugees, the visit recognizes the commitment of the Jordanian people and government to refugee protection. The latest figures on Tuesday show that more than a quarter of a million Syrian refugees have now been registered in the surrounding region, or are awaiting registration.

On Monday night, Jolie visited the Jordanian border with Syria and met newly arriving families. Among them was an injured man. Most of the refugees cross the border at night. Shelling could be heard from across the border and some 200 refugees made the dangerous crossing.

Since its opening in late July, Za’atri camp, which is located close to Mafraq near the Syria border, has received 28,000 refugees. These are among the 83,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan who have registered or are awaiting registration. Many more are believed to have crossed without seeking to register. Most of the refugees are living with host communities in urban areas.

“Refugees tell us that artillery and air attacks are continuing in villages and towns close to the Jordanian border. There are reports of thousands of displaced people in Syria’s south, moving from village to village seeking safety before they can cross the border,” a UNHCR spokesman said.

The number of refugees crossing the border tends to fluctuate daily according to the security situation inside Syria. Overall, the average remains around 2,000 new arrivals a day, but some days have seen less than 100 people crossing.

Refugees say a number of sites in Damascus where displaced people have been sheltering are now affected by violence, forcing them to move again. Some refugees report being displaced five or six times before finally leaving the country.

UNHCR, together with the Jordanian government, the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization and UN and NGO partners, is working day and night to support Syrian refugees. Nevertheless, conditions at Za’atri – a windswept camp in the desert – are still harsh, and most refugees are living in tents.

With winter approaching, UNHCR hopes to be able to move people into prefabricated housing, which are arriving at a rate of up to 30 homes a day, giving priority to the most vulnerable families.

In the meantime, refugees are doing their best to establish their lives in the camp. Over the weekend, the first wedding took place while there have been several births in Za’atri since the camp opened.

Guterres and Jolie were due later Tuesday to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein, Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Judeh.


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