Geneva: More than 6,400 Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan’s Zaatari camp in the past 24 hours, bringing to over 30,000 the number of arrivals since the start of the month, the UN refugee agency said.
“Jordan has experienced a record number of refugees crossing,” UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva, noting that December’s influx totalled 16,413.
The new arrivals bring the total population of the sprawling camp that opened last July to some 65,000.
“Only yesterday [Thursday], 4,400 Syrian refugees arrived in Zaatari camp, and a further 2,000 arrived during the course of the night,” Fleming said.
“Staff in Zaatari are working day and night shifts to respond to the new arrivals and the growing needs of the refugees in the camp,” she said.
Fleming explained that most new arrivals were women, children and elderly and that conditions in the camp were difficult.
“It is with great sadness that we report the death of three refugee children this week” in the camp, she said, noting that a two-year-old and a two-month-old had died shortly after arriving at the camp, while a two-day-old baby died following an emergency delivery.
She said UNHCR was working with the Jordanian government to prepare a second major camp called the Halabat camp near Zaatari to take some of the pressure off that camp.
“We hope to open it by the end of the month,” she said, adding that up to 5,000 people would initially be housed at the new camp, with plans to boost that number to 30,000.
Jordan says it is hosting more than 300,000 Syrian refugees, while the UNHCR says 206,630 of them have been registered or are in the process of being registered.
The United Nations has predicted that the number of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries will double to 1.1 million by June if the civil war in Syria does not end.
More than 60,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict which erupted in March 2011.