By Hamad Al-Fahad(with photos)
MAFRAQ, Jordan, Dec 18 (KUNA) -- A Kuwaiti delegation representing official, popular authorities and associations and the Gulf country media examined aid programs, implemented by the United Nations and funded by the State of Kuwait, at Al-Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in North Jordan.
Dr. Hanan Hamdan, the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees Office Director in Kuwait, said in a statement to KUNA the commission organized the visit for the delegation, including representatives of the ministries of foreign and information affairs, Kuwait Journalists Association, International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) and the Kuwaiti media.
The visit is part of the commission information strategy aimed at promoting Kuwait's leading role in aiding the Syrian refugees, she said, indicating the Kuwaiti assistance includes health and educational support, in and outside Al-Zaatari camp and other squalid sites hosting the war-haggard Syrians.
Dr. Hamdan hailed Kuwait's speedy and generous support for UN agencies, namely the commission which was given USD 110 million for assisting the war-afflicted Syrians.
Meanwhile, Maamoun Mehsen, in charge of external relations and financing at the regional coordination bureau for the Syrian refugees, said Kuwait is the second state, after the United States, with respect of volume of aid allocated for the Syrians.
The UN Commissioner ensures delivery of relief supplies to the refugees and files regular and relevant reports to donor nations.
The delegation visited Al-Zaatari camp, examining in particular, the IICO-erected Kuwaiti Village which consists of pre-fabricated housing units -- located inside the shanty town, and various Kuwaiti-financed projects and activities such as installment of power generators, makeshift water networks and joint kitchens.
Kilian Kleinschmidt, the UNHCR senior field coordinator at the sprawling camp, briefed the Kuwaiti visitors about the slum site conditions, mentioning that it is the third largest refugee camp in the world, after two identical camps in Kenya. Al-Zaatari camp, the German coordinator added further in his briefing to the delegation, is the largest one hosting Syrian refugees, totaling some 10 million -- the other camps are located in other countries neighboring Syria namely Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon.
Up to 350,000 Syrian refugees have set foot on the camp since its erection in July 2012, Kleimnshmdit said, adding it has received, at some times, up to 3,000-4,000 refugees per day.
Delving into details, the UNHCR liaison officer, explained how a refugee is treated since arriving at the site; allotting a dwelling, injecting the refugee against communicable diseases, feeding the newcomer and handing him (her) a temporary ID card.
Kuwait has supplied some 60,000 tents to secure roof for 60,000 families, basic utilities and joint kitchens, each for serving 20 residents of the site.
Each of the Kuwaiti-supplied fire resistant tents costs some USD 480, he said, adding that currently, there are 30,000 pitched ones, explaining that many of the refugees have been shifted to solid caravans or pre-fabricated small housing units.
The camp is developing as time passes. It now hosts up to 2,800 grocery and commercial stores, he said, adding the refugees are involved in small business transactions, worth millions of dollars.
The UNHCR activities are not restricted to physical needs. Psychological and social aid and therapy are given to some refugees, he said. Up to 42 percent of the camp residents are women who support their families. There are 7,000 families "with no men." Fifty-five percent of the females in the camp are married to men who have remained in Syria, and 55 percent of the populace are aged under 18.
The Kuwaiti guests witnessed delivery of gas heaters, donated by the Gulf State -- kind of help that came at the right time with onset of the winter biting cold.
The IICO representative, Walid Al-Seif, affirmed in remarks to KUNA that the visit aimed at examining first-hand the conditions at the camp, particularly the refugees' needs, ahead of the second donors' conference, to be hosted by Kuwait in January.
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is scheduled to patronize the upcoming humanitarian event, aimed at rallying further financial support for the refugees of the war-torn nation. Dr. Fahad Al-Shulaimi, an advisor at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information and the UN, said the visit was fruitful and the delegation examined the tangible coordination involving the State of Kuwait, the UNHCR and grass-root associations to aid some 80,000 Syrian refugees at Al-Zaatari camp.
The delegation members have sensed deep gratitude among the refugees for the Kuwaiti assistance, Dr. Al-Shulaimi, said, assuring the Kuwaiti people that the relief supplies have been ending up in the right hands.
He has also expressed admiration that some refugees are managing to overcome their plights and make ends meet by getting themselves involved in diverse deals and small businesses. (end) hmf.rk KUNA 181301 Dec 13NNNN