Jordan Struggles To Provide Water For Syrian Refugees

syria water jordan refugeesThe 19-month conflict in Syria goes from bad to worse – and there are environmental impacts for the region too

“The situation is bad and getting worse,” U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said today, lamenting the collapse of the truce he helped broker over the Eid al-Adha holiday. A car bomb which exploded near a Damascus mosque shattered the fragile ceasefire which had done little to stem violence across the country. And so, the 19-month conflict rages on with costs to the Syrian people and the region. In a previous post, I covered how poor water policies may have aggravated the conflict in Syria but Jordan – which has taken in over 200,000 Syrians- is now struggling with its own water supplies for refugees.

Syrians have been fleeing the country in search of safety for months now and Jordan has opened its borders to over 200,000 refugees. However, Jordan has been struggling to assist the displaced due to its fragile desert climate. In the Za’atri refugee camp which is home to 36,000 refugee a sandstorm blew down the tents and there have been several protests by refugees at the harsh conditions in the camps. Andrew Harper, who is UNHCR’s country representative and humanitarian coordinator in Jordan, spoke with VOA’s David Arnold about challenges and complexities of the aid effort in Jordan.

“One of the challenges we do have in the north of Jordan, one of the biggest problems, is that we are working in the desert and we’re trying to get water to tens of thousands of people every day,” he explained. “The other issue is also getting rid of the waste, the sewage, the solid waste. And this puts a messy environmental burden on the Jordanian environment up there and so, what we have to look at, is that we do not compromise Jordan’s future by aggravating the pollution potential, disruption of the Jordanian aquifers because they have been hosting refugees.”

Jordan has a long history of providing for refugees seeking safety from conflict including Plaestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis and more recently Libyans and Syrians. But Jordan lacks natural resources and the UNCHR have been appealing to the International community to provide the country with two things they are lacking: money and water.

For more on the conflict in Syria see:

How Unsutainable Water Policies Crippled the Assad Regime

Arab Spring Countries Face Increase Risk of Food Price Shocks in 2013

Syrian Desert People in Need of Sustainable Tents


:: Photo of Syrian refugee via FreedomHouse/flickr.

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