Dozens injured as Syrian refugees, Jordan security forces clash

Arab World Materials 29 August 2012 03:29 (UTC +04:00)

Dozens were injured late Tuesday after clashes broke out between Syrian refugees and Jordanian security forces, the latest in rising tensions in the country's Syrian refugee camp, dpa reported.

According to Jordanian officials, 27 anti-riot personnel were injured after riots over living conditions erupted in the Zaatari refugee camp for the third time in less than a week.

Camp residents said clashes broke out after Jordanian security forces attempted to disperse a protest over conditions within the camp - a collection of tents on the desert outskirts of the border city of Mafraq - which Syrians describe as "unbearable."

"Over 300 residents staged a peaceful march within the camp, and then the anti-riot police came at us with force," said Abu Mohammed, a 42-year-old Daraa resident who took part in the protest.

According to Abu Mohammed, anti-riot personnel fired tear-gas into the crowd, prompting clashes between nearby camp residents and security forces that eye-witnesses say left 40 Syrians injured.

The Jordanian police department did not comment on the injuries.

Some two-dozen local residents attempted to storm the camp late Tuesday to "take revenge" for the clashes. They were quickly turned away by camp security forces, according to a security source stationed at Zaatari.

The incident is the lateste in rising tensions between Jordanian authorities and camp residents. The camp opened last month as the main destination for all Syrians entering Jordan. According to camp officials, some 200 Syrians have successfully escaped the camp and are currently "at large."

On Monday, Jordan and the UN launched a 429-million-dollar appeal to sustain services to refugees and improve conditions within the camp, which is expected to grow from 20,000 to 80,000 residents by the end of the year.

As part of the appeal, relief officials say they aim to upgrade the camp tents into residential trailers better capable of withstanding the harsh desert conditions.

Despite the growing financial burden of the presence of the 180,00-strong refugee community - which is estimated to cost Jordan some 200 million dollars by the end of the year - Amman has pledged to maintain its open border policy.