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Saturday 25 November 2017

Syrian camp refugees attack helpers

Syrian refugees in a border camp (AP)
Syrian refugees in a border camp (AP)

Syrian refugees in a Jordanian camp have attacked aid workers with sticks and stones after winds swept away their tents and torrential rain flooded muddy streets.

The refugees may be about to face even deeper misery with warnings of a major snowstorm threatening Jordan and Turkey - the two countries with the largest Syrian refugee populations.

Police said seven aid workers were injured when the riot broke out after the region's first major winter storm this year hit the Zaatari refugee camp, home to nearly 50,000 refugees in Jordan's northern desert. Inside the camp, pools and lakes surrounded tents, stranding refugees including pregnant women and infants.

Some refugees scurried to evacuate their flooded tents while others used small buckets to bail out the water. Women, children and the elderly whose tents collapsed were hosted at other tents.

A spokesman for The Jordan Hashemite Charitable Organisation said frustration over the harsh conditions triggered the riot. The charity runs the camp along with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

Dozens of refugees hit the workers with sticks and pelted them with stones as they distributed bread for breakfast.

Calls from loudspeakers echoed across the camp urging protesters to evacuate muddy streets with large puddles caused by heavy rains.

Fadi Suleiman, 30, said camp conditions were "worse than living in Syria," where rebels are fighting a civil war against Bashar Assad that has killed 60,000 in nearly two years of fighting.

"It's one misery after the other as the international community sits idle, doing nothing to help us get rid of the tyrant Assad," he said. "But this one is dangerous: There's a serious storm that could kill children and old people."

Of Zaatari's nearly 50,000 refugees, at least half are under the age of 18. They are part of more than 280,000 who fled to Jordan since the revolution against Assad broke out in March 2011.

Press Association

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