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Deadly Violent Clashes Hit Jordan’s Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp

The incident was said to be sparked by the detention of a driver allegedly trying to smuggle a Syrian refugee family out of the the camp.
Photo by Reuters

A Syrian refugee was killed and three others were hurt after violent clashes broke out at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan this weekend.

The refugee was killed during a “heated demonstration” that later evolved into a violent conflict, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees officials said in a statement Sunday.

The incident was reportedly sparked by the detention of a driver who was allegedly trying to smuggle a Syrian refugee family out of the camp — the world's second-largest refugee camp.


Violent clashes broke out at the Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan on April 5, according to local reports.

“Once word of the detention made it back into the camp, and rumors circulated, relatives and friends of the Syrian family moved to the Gendarme post. Soon several hundred, possibly thousands of refugees were on-scene and throwing rocks at the Gendarmes,” the UNHCR statement said. “Outnumbered and almost surrounded, the Gendarmes called for reinforcements and soon they deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd. There were reports of shots fired.”

Residents said that the clashes occurred because a Jordanian policeman had run over a Syrian child, the BBC reported.

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As fires destroyed several tents and caravans at the camp, wounded refugees were taken to the hospital, where one later died. More than 20 Jordanian police officers were injured in the incident. Since the clashes, thousands of refugees have left the eastern part of the camp.

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There are 125,000 Syrian refugees registered in the Zaatari camp according to UNHCR. Zaatari is one of two camps set up for Syrian refugees in Jordan. The camp has seen several protests since opening two years ago.

A UNHCR report estimated there are 450,000 Syrian refugees who were registered living outside UNHCR camps in Jordan.