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No major incidents at refugee camps during snowstorm — UNHCR

By Khetam Malkawi - Feb 21,2015 - Last updated at Feb 21,2015

AMMAN — Measures adopted by the authorities and UN agencies prior to and during the snowstorm that hit most of the country’s governorates this weekend helped avert major incidents among Syrian refugees in the camps.

UNHCR Representative to Jordan Andrew Harper said plans were already in place before the start of the storm to avoid any serious incidents in both Zaatari and Azraq, the two major camps for Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Harper said refugees residing in tents were evacuated to trailers before the snowstorm, and community centres were equipped with heaters and other requirements to host new arrivals. 

He added that some tents collapsed under the snow, but they had already been evacuated.

The UN official told The Jordan Times that as the snow melted quickly in Zaatari, which is some 90km northeast of Amman, 20 trucks were available to pump water out. 

The Azraq camp, 100km east of Amman, did not witness as much snow and life was normal, according to Harper.

The UNHCR also continued distributing blankets to the most vulnerable Syrian refugees as part of a campaign launched three months ago. 

The distribution during the storm took place in Ajloun Governorate, 70km northwest of Amman, as it was one of the most affected areas. The campaign, according to Harper, included distributing 250,000 blankets.

UNICEF also continued its cash assistance programme during the storm. The agency said supermarkets and clothing shops were open to allow families who receive cash assistance to get warm clothes for their children.

Through the winter cash assistance programme, UNICEF provides children under the age of 14 in Zaatari and Azraq camps with JD14 each.

Save the Children and UNICEF child-friendly centres were also prepared to receive refugees in need of shelter, hosting 100 people during the storm, according to the UN agency.

Fourteen deliveries took place at the UNFPA clinic in Zaatari camp from Thursday until Saturday noon, the agency said.

In addition, the clinic received 12 antenatal care cases, 18 consultations and referred four cases to hospitals.

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