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Jordan prepares for third Syrian camp amid rising refugee influx

By Taylor Luck - Nov 16,2012 - Last updated at Nov 16,2012

AMMAN — Authorities are preparing the Kingdom’s third Syrian refugee camp, amid a refugee influx that has reached 1,000 persons per day, relief officials said Thursday.

The new camp will be located near the border city of Ramtha, some 90 kilometres north of the capital, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The camp, to be funded by Saudi Arabia, is slated to be established near the Jordan University of Science and Technology and house up to 18,000 Syrians, Anmar Hmoud, the government spokesperson for Syrian refugee affairs, said in a press statement.

Jordan is currently racing to put the finishing touches on the second camp in the Mreijeb Al Fhoud region, some 22km east of Zarqa, as its main Syrian camp in Zaatari near Mafraq, 80km northeast of Amman, rapidly approaches its maximum capacity of 60,000.

Officials aim to open the second camp, which is set to house up to 10,000 Syrians, by early next month.

The preparations come amid a fresh exodus of Syrians into Jordan, with the UNHCR reporting the crossing of some 1,000 refugees early Thursday.

Syrians continue to flee to Jordan despite intensified fighting between rebel and regime forces in southern Syria, which according to security sources, has led to a rise in injuries among refugees crossing the border.

Syrian opposition activists accuse Damascus of conducting an air campaign against refugees in the border region, charging that regime forces bombard groups of civilians attempting to flee to Jordan.

"The regime is bombing every building that could possibly be used as shelter,” said Abu Mohammed, a Syrian activist affiliated with the Local Coordination Committees. "Right now anyone coming near the border is a sitting target,” he added.

Rebel forces vowed to continue to facilitate “mass crossings” into Jordan, reporting the presence of several thousand internally displaced Syrians across southern Syria waiting to enter the Kingdom.

Intensifying clashes between forces loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels have led many Syrians to flee their homes, with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent estimating that at least 2.5 million people have been internally displaced by the 20-month conflict, Agence France-Presse reported.

The UN estimates that the number of Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries will likely rise from over 400,000 now to more than 700,000 by early 2013.

Thousands of Syrians cross to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq each day to flee violence which has left more than 37,000 people dead since the violence began in March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Jordan follows an open-border policy, having granted refuge to over 235,000 Syrians since the onset of the crisis in March 2011. 

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