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Syria refugees kept behind fences amid Jordan security fears

Published:Friday | June 3, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Syrian refugees look through the gate of a grocery store at the al-Azraq refugee camp in northeast Jordan. Thousands of newly arrived Syrian refugees have been moved behind barbed wire in a separate section of the Azraq camp because Jordan considers them potential security risks.


A barbed wire-topped fence encircles a section of this bleak UN-run camp, isolating thousands of recent arrivals, whom Jordan considers a potential security risk, from other Syrian refugees.

This camp-within-a-camp, called "Village 5," was set up in late March as part of an uneasy trade-off between Jordan and international aid agencies trying to speed up admissions of tens of thousands of refugees stranded in remote desert areas on the kingdom's border.

Under the deal, Jordan agreed to let in about 300 Syrians a day, or five times more than before, on condition that newcomers are isolated in Azraq for more security checks. Jordan said strict vetting is crucial to prevent Islamic State extremists, who control large areas of Syria, from infiltrating the kingdom.




In turn, aid agencies agreed to put traumatised war survivors behind barbed wire, if only temporarily.

Yet neither side expects the new admissions deal to empty out two rapidly growing encampments on the Syrian-Jordanian border. Instead, the population there, currently at 64,000, half of them children, is expected to reach 100,000 by the end of the year if fighting in Syria continues.