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New refugee camp opens in Jordan as Syrian humanitarian crisis continues to grow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Amman, JORDAN (April 24, 2014) — The announcement of a new refugee camp to open in Jordan is sad but significant, says World Vision. The Jordanian Government and UNHCR have announced that a new refugee camp will open at the end of April. Azraq camp, located approximately 60 miles east of Amman, has the capacity to host up to 130,000 people. If it grows to that size, it would be one of the largest refugee camps in the world.

“It is heartbreaking that three years after this conflict started, the situation is still causing children and their families to have to cross borders to flee to safety,” said Conny Lenneberg, World Vision’s regional leader for the Middle East. “It’s desperately sad that we need to open another camp, but it’s significant that the UN and Jordanian Government are able to provide this service.”

The decision comes as the Syrian crisis continues to grow as it enters its fourth year, with no end in sight. Approximately 600 people enter Jordan as refugees every day, fleeing the violence andseeking basic necessities like food and water, as/while aid organizations continue to  encounter so many obstacles to reaching them inside Syria. Za'atari camp, Jordan’s primary refugee camp, is already home to nearly 100,000 people. More than 450,000 refugees are living outside of camps in communities around the country, many without access to basic services.

World Vision is one of 22 agencies working on preparations in Azraq camp. The organization has built water and sanitation infrastructure to meet the needs up to 30,000 people. The agency welcomes the camp opening to provide a safe space for new arrivals, particularly those with children, but stresses that given the increase in numbers of refugees into Jordan and the protracted nature of the Syrian crisis, there needs to be renewed attention to supporting the Government of Jordan as it works to come up with longer term solutions.

“The journey from Syria can be long and distressing. World Vision and our partners have been working hard to ensure that this new camp is as safe, clean and comfortable for families as possible,” said Lenneberg. “But of course, we wish there was no need for children to live in camps, or for refugees to be having to flee on such a massive scale. We want this conflict to end. We want peace for Syria.”

Jordan is one of the world’s most water-scarce countries, and, much like Za’atari, the environment at Azraq is dry, dusty and desolate. The government, United Nations and aid agencies have designed the camp with safety, comfort and cultural considerations in mind. The camp has been separated into villages. Families will live in shelters, not tents, and there will be more water and sanitation facilities per family than were initially available at Za’atari. Schools and playgrounds have already been built for children.

“It means a lot to us to get this right,” said Lenneberg. “But three years in, the fact remains that more needs to be done to put an end to this hideous conflict, peacefully, so that no more children need to flee the country they love so much.”

The opening of the camp comes as the heads of all major United Nations organizations are calling for an end to the violence and humanitarian access for aid organizations that have so often been blocked from reaching vulnerable people in-urgent need within Syria. Much of the humanitarian response to the conflict remains underfunded, despite UN estimates that more than 9.3 million people are urgently in need of assistance.

Azraq camp will open on April 30. For interviews or any other media requests, please contact Lauren Fisher, +1.206.310.5476.

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