x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Dubai UN aid for Syria refugees

UN stockpile of aid sent from Dubai to Syrian refugees in Jordan.

The UNHCR is sending one of the largest shipments of blankets, tents and mattresses to the Za'atri camp in the north of Jordan from its warehouse in Jebel Ali.
The UNHCR is sending one of the largest shipments of blankets, tents and mattresses to the Za'atri camp in the north of Jordan from its warehouse in Jebel Ali.

DUBAI // Thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan are being sent supplies from the United Nations relief agency's aid stockpile in Dubai.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is sending about 32 lorries - one of the largest shipments of blankets, tents and mattresses - to the Za'atri camp in the north of Jordan from its warehouse in Jebel Ali.

"Five already left on Tuesday," said Brigitte Khair Mountain, UNHCR's head in Abu Dhabi, yesterday. "Ten will leave today and the remaining in the next few days."

The lorries are carrying 40,000 mattress, 20,000 blankets, 15,000 water buckets, 10,000 kitchen sets, 3,000 tents and 2,000 jerry cans.

The move follows rioting on Tuesday at the Za'atri camp by a reported 200 refugees who protested against the camp's poor conditions.

"Overcrowding is a reason for dispatching supplies as the rate of influx of refugees from Syria has doubled in the past week," Ms Mountain said.

"There is an acute need for shelter. We are anticipating more refugees arrivals."

She said the agency hoped that supplies from its Dubai stockpile would "beef up" existing operations.

"The shipment of tents and non-food items will serve to quickly respond to the needs of the expanding camp due to the increased influx of Syrians," she said. "We are urgently pitching more tents and expanding the camp."

Despite the agency's efforts, the official said the situation was "overwhelming" as people continue to flee the brutality of the Al Assad regime.

More than 130,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan, according to the Jordanian government. Of these, an estimated 70,000 have been registered with UNHCR. In the past week, more than 10,000 refugees arrived at the camp, compared to a few hundred per week previously.

With this number expected to rise further, UN officials said Arabian Gulf governments, including the UAE, should work with the agency for better effect.

"The conflict and the shelling have doubled the pace of refugees," Ms Mountain said.

"There is an urgent need of supplies. There is a need for Gulf communities to be involved."

On Tuesday, a UAE-Jordanian field hospital with 500 beds was set up near the border with Syria to provide medical care to Syrians, said Wam, the state news agency. It is staffed with volunteer doctors, nurses, technicians and managers from the UAE, Jordan and other countries, the agency said.

Ms Mountain said she hoped an impending agreement between UNHCR and the UAE Red Crescent would improve coordination.

"We would value the government of UAE's involvement through direct partnership with UNHCR for an effective coordinated response to the refugee crisis."

The relief agency's cargo from Dubai via Saudi Arabia is expected to take "five to seven days" to reach Jordan.

The UN said it was prepared to send more aid from its stockpile, if necessary.

pkannan@thenational.ae