Humanitarian Traces of
Angelina Jolie

Jordan

11.09.2012

Angelina Jolie and UNHCR chief António Guterres  have heard harrowing tales of suffering and cross-border escape during meetings with Syrian refugees in northern Jordan.

They visited Za’atri, a camp holding almost 30,000 people in very difficult conditions. On late night, Angelina Jolie also met a group of around 200 traumatized refugees - including many children - just after they crossed the border, some with injuries and many telling of loss and brutality.

Both, Angelina Jolie and UNHCR chief António Guterres, praised Jordan for keeping its border open and providing sanctuary for fleeing Syrians - more than 80,000 have registered as refugees or applied to register, out of above 250,000 for the region - and they called on the international community to do more to improve life for the refugees in Za’atri.

Angelina Jolie told journalists in Za’atri about the refugees in a desperate condition that she had met while accompanying Jordanian troops at the border. Shelling could be heard from inside Syria as some 200 refugees made the dangerous crossing, including a badly beaten man with his nine-year-old daughter. The man said he had escaped before he could be executed.

Jolie said that during more than a decade of working with UNHCR she had met many people in camps, while adding that “rarely do you meet them as they cross the border, the moment they become a refugee, the moment they have lost their home, their schooling, their livelihood, everything they had.”

She said it was particularly difficult listening to children describe the horrific things they had seen or experienced before reaching the safety of Jordan, which has provided haven to hundreds of thousands of refugees in recent years. “They described body parts, separated, burnt people being pulled apart.”

The number of refugees crossing the border tends to fluctuate daily according to the security situation inside Syria. Overall, the average remains around 2,000 new arrivals a day, but some days have seen less than 1,000 people crossing due to the poor security situation across the border.

Refugees say violence is affecting a number of sites in Damascus where displaced people have been sheltering, forcing them to move again. Some refugees report being displaced five or six times before leaving the country.

UNHCR, together with the Jordanian government, the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization and UN and NGO partners, is working day and night to support Syrian refugees. Nevertheless, conditions at Za’atri - a windswept camp in the desert - are still harsh, and most refugees are living in tents.

With winter approaching, UNHCR hopes to be able to move people into prefabricated housing, which is arriving at a rate of up to 30 homes a day, giving priority to the most vulnerable families.

In the meantime, refugees are doing their best to establish their lives in the camp.



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