Posted by Rafiq A. Tschannen
AMMAN — Violent riots erupted at the Zaatari Refugee Camp on Tuesday as heavy rain submerged hundreds of tents.
According to a security source, Syrian refugees clashed with security forces and aid workers at the camp near Mafraq, 80km north of Amman, early on Tuesday during a protest over the facility’s “lack of preparedness” for harsh weather conditions.
Some 200 residents attacked aid workers with stones and makeshift clubs during the daily food ration distribution, eyewitnesses said, forcing authorities to evacuate local and international staff from the camp.
Gendarmerie forces fired tear gas and live rounds into the air in order to disperse the mob, according to residents and security sources, with at least 20 arrests reported.
Seven aid workers were injured in the riots, according to the security source.
The clashes came as high-speed winds and heavy rainfall pounded the desert camp for the second straight day, damaging 500 tents and leaving dozens of families without shelter, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
The Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation, which co-administers the camp along with the UN, said the heavy rainfall has forced officials to enact an “emergency response plan”, transferring hundreds of camp residents to makeshift housing.
Meanwhile, refugees criticised the “lack of winter preparations”, claiming that the camp suffers an ongoing shortage of kerosene, blankets and winter clothing.