The 'massive Azraq'... Media 'sensation'

تم نشره في Thu 1 May / May 2014. 12:39 PM - آخر تعديل في Thu 1 May / May 2014. 05:40 PM
  • (Left to right: Director of the Syrian Refugees Affairs Directorate Brig. Gen. Wadah Hmoud, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Interior Minister Hussein Majali, UNHCR representative in Jordan Andrew Harper (UNHCR)

By Fahed Khitan 

The presence of Syrian refugees in Jordan was associated with Zaatari refugee camp, which shot to fame in international media being the first and the largest camp on a Jordanian territory. But as of yesterday, Zaatari will fall to second place after the Azraq camp, which opened yesterday, as the largest among the six camps in Jordan.

The opening of Azraq is not an act worthy of celebration, of course; it is a strong indication that the Syrian crisis, which entered its fourth year, is likely to continue, and with the continuation will worsen the suffering of Jordan and its neighboring countries, which are reeling from the heavy load of refugees.

For a large segment of the Jordanians , the opening of the "massive Azraq" means receiving more waves of refugees, as opposed to the direction of the majority, backed by prominent political figures, who called, in more than one occasion, to the closure of the border to refugees.

The inauguration of the new camp is further evidence of the failure of the international community in resolving the Syrian crisis, at least on the human dimension; whether through the creation of safe zones inside the Syrian territories, or securing humanitarian aid to the Syrians in their areas, as mandated by the resolution of the UN Security Council in this regard.

The opening of the camp for new refugees confirms Jordan's "surrender" to the policy of open borders, and the lack of an official alternative to this policy.

According to insiders, the Azraq camp is far more organized than Zaatari, and surpasses it in capacity. It is also more defensible in terms of security, making it difficult for refugees to escape from it, as has happened with thousands of cases in the Zaatari camp, which has turned with the passage of time into a transit station after which the refugees move into Jordanian cities.

More than 350,000 refugees have entered the camp Zaatari, according to official sources, with less than 80,000 now left in it.

The opening of Azraq coincided with official forecasts for a widening scope of military operations in the southern regions of Syria, after the forces of the Syrian regime have made several field successes in many areas, prompting armed groups to concentrate their efforts in the south in the province of Daraa and its surroundings. Bloody battles are expected in the coming weeks, foreshadowing new waves of refugees toward Jordan.

Jordanian officials estimate that in case of such an eventuality, Jordan should expect more than 30 thousand refugees in a few weeks.

I know the motives behind the media "sensation" that accompanied the opening of the camp, and the keenness of senior ministers for "ribbon-cutting". But this "propaganda" brought the sympathy if the donors in the early stages of the Syrian crisis . Today, after four years of the conflict, it is no longer exciting for them, and there are no donors willing to pay.

Maybe we got to the stage where we cannot back off our policy of open borders, but we do not need to be celebrating that either; the opening of a new camp for refugees is a suitable occasion for us to think about the exorbitant cost we pay, not the price what we are collecting.


This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition.