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UNICEF statement on conditions at Za’atari refugee camp

2013-01-10

MAFRAQ JORDAN, January 10, 2013 - Severe weather conditions across northern Jordan – including heavy rain, snow and sub-zero temperatures – have greatly worsened the situation of children among some 55,000 Syrian refugees living at Za’atari camp.

Widespread flooding has occurred, swamping tents, and overwhelming the camp draining system. Deep mud is making it harder for the water and dislodging trucks to access the camp.

Several Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) tents/areas have been flooded, and a tent used to shelter unaccompanied minors has collapsed.

In response, UNICEF and its partners are working around the clock to sustain the provision of services to the camp, and in particular, to ensure that all refugees have access to water, latrines and showers.

UNHCR, the Ministry of Public Works, and UNICEF partner THW are working to drain the affected area and mitigate the effects. 

UNICEF has distributed emergency warm clothing along with sleeping mats to replace mattresses soaked by the rain. Heaters have been distributed to families now living in prefabricated buildings within the camp.

“The next 72 hours will be a critical test of our ability to meet the basic needs of children and their families at Za’atari,” said UNICEF Jordan Representative, Dominique Hyde. “Alongside the Government of Jordan and our and other partners, we are doing everything possible to ensure services are maintained and that children stay warm and dry.”

Hyde added that lack of funding has been one major constraint.

“The resources we raised in 2012 have been exhausted, and no fresh funds have come for this year. We urgently appeal to the international community and donors in general to commit fresh funding as soon as possible.”

The deteriorating situation at Za’atari comes amid a continuing influx of refugees from across the border. Since the beginning of January, close to 10,000 Syrians have arrived in Jordan.

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.