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Deadly clash in Jordan’s Zaatari camp

At least one person has been reported killed and dozens hurt in a riot at Jordan’s Zaatari camp, home to some 106,000 refugees from Syria’s war.

Jordanian forces used tear gas against stone-throwing refugees who had set fire to tents and vehicles.

Both sides blame each other for provoking the violence. The dead person was a Syrian refugee, officials say.

The sprawling camp has seen several protests since opening two years ago, mainly over poor living conditions.

Zaatari is located in the Jordanian desert, about 12km (7.5 miles) from the Syrian border.

It is the world’s second-largest refugee camp – behind Dadaab in eastern Kenya – and has become the fourth largest city in Jordan.

Harsh Conditions

Jordanian authorities said the violence broke out after police arrested a group of refugees who were trying to leave the camp illegally.

“The rioters burned six tents and two caravans and tried to attack police stations,” the Public Security Directorate said in a statement.

Residents of Zaatari, however, claimed the clashes occurred because a Jordanian policeman had run over a Syrian child.

Eyewitnesses also said the number of refugees injured in the unrest was much higher than the three cases confirmed by officials.

“We are always treated unfairly, we’ve escaped from an injustice [in Syria] to another injustice,” said a refugee interviewed by the Associated Press news agency.

Brig Gen Waddah Hmoud, the director of the Syrian Refugees Camp Affairs Department, said 29 police and gendarmerie officers had been taken to hospital with injuries.

“Unfortunately two of the Syrian refugees were injured by gunshot, one of them passed away this morning,” he told the AP news agency.

Opened in July 2012 with some 100 refugee families, Zaatari is now made up of roughly 30,000 shelters and administration buildings.

It costs about $500,000 (£320,000) a day to run, with half a million pieces of bread and 4.2m litres of water distributed daily.

Correspondents say life inside the camp can be harsh, as residents – mostly hailing from the Daraa governorate of Syria, face a number of challenges – the biggest being security.

An overflow camp – Azraq – is under construction in the desert to meet demand. It will have the capacity to host up to 130,000 people.

More than 2.5 million people have fled Syria since the civil war broke out there in March 2011.

Earlier this week, the UN confirmed that the number of Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon had surpassed one million, making it the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide.

This is followed by Jordan, which houses almost 600,000 refugees. Other main host countries include Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.