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Friday 25 January 2013

Response Team heads to Jordan to help Syrians
Response Team heads to Jordan to help Syrians A Syrian refugee carries a new tent as he walks after heavy rain at the Al-Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, January 10, 2013. Photograph taken by Reuters/Muhammad Hamed, courtesy of the Thomson Reuters Foundation – AlertNet.

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is travelling to Jordan following the Government's urgent aid appeal announced on Thursday after a significantly higher number of Syrian refugees crossed over into the country this week.

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said that his country had called for immediate international assistance to cope with the huge influx of refugees.

'What we have seen in terms of influx of Syrian refugees coming to Jordan is... unprecedented, larger than any other time in the last two years... we have had 20,000 Syrians coming into Jordan since last Thursday,' said Judeh to Reuters news agency.

More than 26,500 Syrian refugees have fled their homes to Jordan since the beginning of this year, with more than 10,500 new arrivals in this week alone, according to the UN refugee council (UNHCR).

'This recent jump in Syrian refugees crossing over into Jordan is putting a serious strain on the country's resources when you compare it to the number of arrivals last year,' said Operations Manager Alf Evans. '16,413 arrived in December, 13,000 in November and 10,000 in October.

'Nowhere to go'

'The majority have nowhere to go. We have ShelterBoxes prepositioned in the capital Amman with the Jordanian Red Crescent that were originally going to be used to set up transit camps along the Syria border; but existing transit camps were criticised by the international community for inadequate standards that resulted in the Government becoming wary of setting up future transit camps. However, with this influx, circumstances have changed. Therefore we are sending a team in to assess the situation.'

The conflict in Syria has continued for almost two years leaving more than 60,000 dead and two million internally displaced. More and more people are fleeing the country to neighbouring states due to the ongoing violent fighting and aerial bomb attacks.

UNHCR says there are around 650,000 refugees now living across Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey, but the actual figure is likely to be significantly higher as many may have not registered.
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