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UK ambassador hands over police radio equipment to improve safety in refugee camps

By JT - Mar 09,2016 - Last updated at Mar 10,2016

British Ambassador to Jordan Edward Oakden holds a radio, delivered to the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate, during the handover ceremony earlier this week (Photo courtesy of British embassy)

AMMAN — British Ambassador to Jordan Edward Oakden handed over new radio communication equipment, worth 380,000 pounds (around JD383,522), to the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate earlier this week. 

The donation "is the latest step in the UK government’s efforts to support Jordan’s resilience in the face of the Syria crisis, by helping provide security for Syrian refugees" according to a British embassy statement released Wednesday.

Since 2013, the British embassy's policing support team has been helping the directorate set up and expand its community policing initiative at the Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps. 

The team’s support has included constructing three community police stations, commissioning and deploying a custom-built mobile police station, and training community police officers and assistants, the statement said.

In a survey carried out at Zaatari camp in February 2015, 74 per cent of the respondents said they felt that the introduction of community police had made the camp, some 90km northeast of Amman, a safer place.

The new radio equipment is being supplied by Unitel, a Jordanian telecom company, and will bring radio coverage to 100 per cent in Zaatari and Azraq camps, up from 20 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. 

"This will greatly improve the ability of community police officers and assistants to coordinate their activities and patrol safely. The graduation of a new cohort of British and Dutch funded community police assistants this week will further allow the timely and efficient deployment of police resources," the embassy said.

Between December 2015 and the end of February 2016, community police assistants in Zaatari, which is home to 79,648 refugees according to the UNHCR, responded to 632 individual incidents.

“The UK and Jordan have a vital partnership. An essential element of that partnership is UK support for Jordan’s stability and security in the face of the Syria and other regional crises," the statement quoted Oakden as saying. 

"Since the start of the Syria crisis the UK has provided more than half a billion dollars towards building Jordanian resilience, partnering with Jordan in important fields like this community policing," he added. 

After the London donor conference in February, where $11 billion dollars in aid was pledged to support countries most affected by the Syria crisis, "UK support to Jordan is set to double, reflecting the priority we attach to supporting both Syrian refugees and their generous Jordanian host communities at this critical time,” Oakden noted.

Head of the directorate Brig. Gen. Jehad Ghaleb Matar, said: “The construction of radio communication towers, and the provision of base stations and handheld receivers will allow the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate to deploy community police to areas according to the greatest need." 

 

"This will increase the amount of contact our officers have with the communities in Zaatari and Azraq, resulting in more cases being addressed,” the statement quoted him as saying.

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