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As snow melts, Syrian influx to Jordan revs up
By Taylor Luck - Jan 14,2013 - Last updated at Jan 14,2013
AMMAN — Jordan has witnessed a spike in Syrian refugees as temperatures have begun to rise and last week’s snow melts, relief officials said on Monday, reporting over 1,300 new arrivals in a two-day period.
According to the UN, warmer weather has brought a rising influx of Syrian refugees to the Kingdom, with some 520 new arrivals on Sunday and over 800 on Monday morning.
The surge comes after three days of heavy snow and rain pounded Jordan and large swathes of southern Syria, reducing the refugee flow from over 1,000 crossings per day to under 200.
According to Syrian rebels, the thaw has led to the re-opening of main crossing routes previously made impassable by the storms.
“Right now a majority of the routes to Jordan are open and we are beginning full crossings again,” said Abu Hani, a coordinator for the Free Syrian Army located in the southern region.
The rebels believe the stable weather conditions will lead to a larger influx of refugees in the coming days, claiming that some 8,000 internally displaced Syrians are currently waiting to cross into the Kingdom.
“Hundreds and hundreds of citizens have been displaced and left with nowhere to go,” Abu Hani said. “With the routes open, they will now be going to Jordan.”
Meanwhile, intensified clashes were reported in the border region as Damascus continued its offensive to recapture rebel strongholds in southern Syria.
According to Syrian rebels, government forces bombarded Daraa and large parts of the Damascene countryside late Monday in a bid to roll back recent rebel gains.
Intensified clashes between regime and rebel forces since the start of the new year have sparked a fresh Syrian exodus into Jordan, with relief officials reporting over 9,000 crossings in the first week of January.
The sudden influx has placed a growing strain on Jordan’s sole Syrian refugee camp the Zaatari camp outside Mafraq, where some 500 tents and several facilities were damaged by last week’s heavy rain and strong winds.
In a bid to accommodate the rising number of new arrivals, officials are planning to open a second camp, a tented facility on the outskirts of the northern city of Zarqa, by the end of the month.
Jordan has opened its borders to some 300,000 Syrians since the onset of the conflict, around half of the 600,000 Syrians displaced across the region.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged some $15 million in emergency assistance to help Syrian refugees in Jordan face one of the country’s harshest winters in recent history.
Syrians continued to flee to Jordan in record numbers on Tuesday as relief officials announced the arrival of emergency winter aid.
Hundreds of Syrians fleeing alleged chemical weapon attacks were stranded due to the violence along the Jordanian-Syrian border on Saturday as a reported mass exodus towards Jordan entered its fourth straight day.
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