Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Jordan Refugee Camp Nearly Empty


Around the family, rows of sand-colored canvas tents stand all but empty in the Jordanian desert close to the Iraqi border, waiting for an anticipated flood of refugees from the war next door.

But an Iraqi has yet to appear at this camp set up by the Red Crescent about 50 miles inside the border. The only people who have made it so far are citizens of other countries - mainly Sudanese, Moroccans and Somalis - who were living and working in Iraq.

Although officials say it can accommodate 25,000 people, just 256 refugees were in Ruweished camp Monday. A second empty camp, able to accommodate another 20,000, stands nearby.

Jordan anticipated that a huge number of refugees would flee to the kingdom when the United States began its strike on Iraq. The United Nations has warned that as many as 600,000 refugees could flood into neighboring countries.