(MENAFN- Jordan Times) The number of registered Syrian refugees in Jordan has passed 30,000, the UN has announced, as relief agencies continue to struggle to raise funds to provide basic services to the vulnerable community.
The number of documented Syrian refugees rose to 31,000 after over 3,000 Syrians registered with the UN over the past week: the single largest increase in a seven-day time span since the start of the 18-month-old crisis, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The bulk of the newly registered refugees originate from Daraa, which has been the epicentre of fresh clashes between government and rebel forces that sparked an exodus of over 6,000 Syrians into Jordan last week.
The UN acknowledges that the number of registrations is unrepresentative of the total number of vulnerable Syrians in Jordan, which various official estimates place at 50,000 and which the UNHCR expects to reach 70,000 by year-end.
The UN agency attributes the recent spike in registrations to growing expectations among the refugee community of an extended stay in Jordan and a desire to secure the benefits that come along with registration: basic healthcare, food aid and cash assistance.
The rising demand for basic services, however, comes amid an ongoing funding shortfall, relief officials say, with the UN reporting that it has secured less than 30 per cent of an $84 million regional fund launched in March to support Syrian refugee host countries, and 10 per cent of the $40 million earmarked for Jordan.
In addition to the basic needs of vulnerable Syrians, relief agencies also face the additional costs of opening and operating the Kingdom's first Syrian refugee camp, which is currently being built on the outskirts of Mafraq, 80 kilometres north of Amman, and whose establishment is expected to further stretch already-limited resources.
Although government officials have refused to disclose the cost of the camp, to be jointly funded by the UN and donations secured by the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation, relief officials estimate that the facility will require some $1 million each month in cash and in-kind assistance.
In light of the widening humanitarian impact of the ongoing crisis, the UNHCR increased its international aid appeal in May to some $192 million in order to continue providing services to the 98,000 registered Syrian refugees across the region.
The UN is currently preparing a third aid appeal should the Syrian refugee exodus continue.
Government officials have repeatedly highlighted the stress the growing refugee community is placing on the Kingdom's scarce resources, with the presence of over 140,000 Syrians spurring a housing shortage, rising food prices and a costly spike in water demand.
Despite the burden, Amman continues to follow an open-border policy, providing refuge as well as access to public education and healthcare services to all Syrians who enter the country.
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