UNHCR: Number of Syrians fleeing to Jordan doubles

The pace of arrivals from the Syrian border to the Za'atri camp in the north of Jordan has doubled in the past week, UN refugee agency has said.

UNHCR's chief spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, told journalists in Geneva that some "10,200 people arrived in the seven days between August 21-27, compared to 4,500 the previous week."

She added that more than 22,000 people have been received at Za'atri since it opened on 30th July.

"Refugees say many thousands more are waiting to cross amid violence around [the governorate of] Daraa and we believe this could be the start of a much larger influx. Some of those who have crossed in recent days – especially Friday –report being bombed by aircraft. There are also reports of shelling, mortars and other weapons fire."

Typically, refugees cross the border at night and are taken straight to the camp by the International Organization for Migration and the Jordanian army. But 1,147 refugees arrived on Monday morning and were followed by another 1,400 overnight and early Tuesday.

Most of the arrivals over the past week have come from Daraa. Many refugees report being displaced up to five or six times inside Syria before they fled the country.

"We have received in the camp over the past week an increased number of unaccompanied children. Some children report that their parents have died, or are staying behind in Syria to look after relatives, or are working in other countries," Fleming said. "Some children, who did not have passports, said they were sent ahead of their parents who will follow later," the spokesperson added.

UNHCR, alongside the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization, is racing to meet the humanitarian needs of the rapidly expanding refugee population at Za'atri with shelter, food, water and health care.

Staff from the refugee agency are pitching more tents and expanding the camp, preparing new ground with a base course of fine gravel to help control dust at the site. Trucks have been sent from a regional warehouse in Zarqa to reinforce stocks of tents and blankets.

The fast pace of arrivals has affected efforts to improve conditions for the existing population, but work on this continues.

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