Last updated: 29 July, 2012

Jordan opens first refugee camp for Syrians

Jordan on Sunday opened its first official refugee camp to help host tens of thousands of Syrians who have fled the mounting violence in its northern neighbour.

“I hope the ordeal of our Syrian brothers will vanish,” Interior Minister Ghaleb Zubi told reporters as he and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh opened the Zaatari camp, which can take up to 120,000 refugees, in Mafraq near the border with Syria.

Judeh said between 1,000 and 2,000 Syrians are fleeing to Jordan every day.

“We are doing our utmost to provide safety and security to those refugees, while at the same time seeking a political solution to end the bloodshed in Syria,” he said.

Judeh said Jordan is now hosting more than 142,000 Syrians, around 36,000 of whom are UN-registered.

The majority of Syrians are living with Jordanian relatives in the country’s north.

Officials said the first batch of 500 refugees will be moved to the new camp later Sunday from a military-guarded housing complex in the border town of Ramtha.

The conflict in Syria has killed more than 20,000 people since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad erupted in March 2011, human rights monitors say.