Jordanian police were forced to fire tear gas at a mob of Syrian refugees Sunday after they rioted at the storehouse of a Norwegian charity in a northern refugee camp.
Staff members from the charity were distributing aid when 200 refugees at the Za’atari camp started rioting “and tried to attack the organization’s storehouse,” Anmar Hmud, a Jordanian government spokesman for refugee affairs, told AFP. “A police officer was injured in the 30-minute riot,” he continued. “Police intervened, firing tear gas to disperse the refugees.”
Thel Za'atri refugee camp is located near the Jordanian city of Mafraq, close to the border with Syria. Donor countries have pledged more than $1.5 billion to aid Syrians stricken by civil war, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last month after warning the conflict had wrought a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
The camp, home to more than 90,000 Syrian refugees since opening in July, has been the scene of frequent riots due to poor living conditions. A week ago camp residents fought over tents being distributed by the same Norwegian charity that was targeted this week – also prompting police to employ tear gas to control the mob.
The Hashemite Kingdom has announced it is setting up a second refugee camp northeast of Amman to absorb some of the overflow. At present the Jordanian government is hosting some 340,000 Syrian refugees, of whom only 200,000 are registered with the United Nations, a spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, across Jordan’s northern border, government troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are managing to hold out against renewed assaults on Damascus by opposition forces. In the process, however, loyalists are turning their own capital into rubble, including at least 1,600 factories that for decades have produced fine fabrics for export to merchants in numerous countries abroad.
“I have friends who have had to leave everything, everything,” one merchant in Jerusalem’s Old City told Arutz Sheva, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Cloth that I ordered more than six months ago by a miracle has managed to reach us – but that’s the last of it. The factories are no more.” He shook his head sadly, caressing bolts of bright silk.
“My friends were forced to take their families and flee – those who were fortunate enough to get out, that is – they’re everywhere now, in Jordan, in Egypt... some I don’t even know where. They don’t know themselves. They’re still trying to escape.”
Syrian war planes struck the eastern Damascus suburb of Zamalka, bombing the Eastern Gouta region repeatedly, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Along the southwestern and southern outskirts of the capital, the Syrian air force bombed the towns of Moadamiyeh, and al-Sabineh –which runs along the highway leading to Dera’a province.
Military forces also clashed with rebels in the eastern Jobar district, and shelled positions in Daraya.
Previous attempts by opposition forces to seize the capital so far have failed, with government troops controlling checkpoints in a ring around the city.
United Nations officials and human rights organizations have estimated that more than 60,000 Syrians have died so far in the savage civil war that was ignited by anti-government grafiti scrawled on a wall by a Dera'a teenager, inspired by the region-wide Arab Spring uprisings in March 2011.