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AP PHOTOS: Security woes plague Syrian refugees

Friday - 4/25/2014, 2:34pm  ET

In this Tuesday, April 8, 2014 photo, Syrian refugees build a wooden rest room next to their tent in an unofficial refugee camp on the outskirts of Amman. Some Syrians have set up informal camps to flee the tensions at Zaatari, the region's largest camp for Syrian refugees, and to be closer to job opportunities. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

KHALIL HAMRA
Associated Press

ZAATARI, Jordan (AP) -- Life in Jordan's Zaatari camp is getting harder for 130,000 Syrian refugees, most of whom have fled fighting in southern Syria.

Security has become hard to control in the sprawling, overcrowded camp and refugees are falling victims to strongmen who imposed their power to try to make a living.

Earlier this month, an angry mob of refugees attacked Jordanian police with rocks, prompting police to fire tear gas. There were reports of live ammunition in fighting that killed one refugee and wounded 28 policemen.

The angry protests were sparked after police detained a family of refugees and a driver who tried to smuggle them out of the camp. The U.N. said it was alarmed at the "violent nature" of the demonstration.

Some residents, frustrated with Zaatari, are now leaving to set up new, informal camps on open lands, to escape tensions.

Among them is Abu Hassan, a father of 12 who lost one child in the war in Syria. He said he couldn't tolerate the camp and feared for his remaining children -- one of whom is also wounded with shrapnel in his left leg.

So he fled Zaatari and settled with his family on the outskirts of Amman, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) south of Zaatari. There, he joined others who had set up camp next to a plastic factory in hopes of getting jobs.

The illegal settlement is not recognized by the Jordanian government, but because many of them have sprouted around the country little is done to dismantle them.

Abu Hassan's camp has fewer than 100 tents, some of them using UNHCR tents from Zaatari and others made of rice and flour sacks. The site has no electricity and no water. Activists come to donate water containers, and the residents feed off the electricity from the factory or the nearby wholesale vegetable market.

Abu Hassan, who agreed to be identified only by his nickname fearing for his own safety, said he worked for the factory for some time, but the owner feared trouble with the government.

For now, Abu Hassan sends his kids to sell and work at the wholesale vegetable market, not far from the settlement.

Here is a selection of photos from the camp by Associated Press photographer Khalil Hamra.

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Associated Press photographer Mohammed Hannon contributed to this report.

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Follow AP photographers and photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6jo.


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