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Saudi-Turkey Joint Syrian Refugee Camps Planned

Saudi Arabia and Turkey are to set up jointly a refugee camp on the Turkish border for Syrians fleeing raging violence in that Middle East country where President Bahsar al-Assad is struggling to prop up his tottering regime against a 17-month-old popular uprising.

"Turkey hosts a large number of refugees and welcomes the Kingdom's (Saudi Arabia's) campaign to support our Syrian brethren," Mubarak Al-Bakr, Executive Director of Saudi National Fundraising Campaign for Syrians, said on Monday.

According to a U.N. report, 66,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring Turkey and are living in nine refugee camps along the border. Many others live at Keelis and Hatai, two other main Syrian refugee camps in Jordan.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Adrian Edwards said those who live in the Keelis camp hailed from the Syrian cities of Izaz and Halab, while those in the Hatai camp were from Halab and surrounding area where fierce fighting continued between government forces and the Opposition Free Syrian Army, mainly comprising Army deserters.

He said more than 3,000 refugees crossed the Syrian border to reach the Turkish camps on last Tuesday and Wednesday. Several international organizations were offering support to displaced Syrians in the camps. However, there was still a critical need for food, medicine and drinking water, the U.N. official said.

Reports from Jordan spoke of a severe shortage of water in the Zaatari camp located in the middle of a desert in that Arab country. "We will be sending water to both Zaatari and Hadeeka camps," Arab media quoted Yusuf Al-Rahmah, a Saudi campaign coordinator, as saying.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's second convoy of 43 trucks carrying more than 700 tons of food, medicine and water reached Jordan on Monday. Saudi officials distributed 3,000 food packets containing essentials such as rice, sugar, tea, macaroni, tomato paste, cooking oil, olive oil, and juices in the Zaatari camp. A children's package containing baby food and formula, juices, toys and milk was also distributed. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia has also committed to construct 2,500 temporary housing units in Jordan at a cost of SR28 million ($7.466 million).

According to the U.N., the Syrian conflict has left more than 15,000 people dead and tens of thousands displaced since the revolt broke out in March 2011 against the decades-long autocratic rule of the Assad family.

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