The UN's children's agency called Friday for urgent help for Syrian refugees in Jordan, saying women and children are increasingly exposed to gender-based violence and abuse as they struggle to survive.
"Without a scaling up of the international donor community's response, the situation for Syrian refugees in Jordan will only get worse. The international community must act now," UNICEF said in a report entitled "Shattered Lives".
It said the displacement of Syrians to Jordan has led to the "breakdown of traditional protective mechanisms and exposed women and children to the risk of gender-based violence and abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence".
It warned that the security situation in Zaatari, the largest refugee camp in Jordan, was deteriorating with theft and vandalism on the rise amid reports of growing gang activities involving mostly Syrian men but also some boys.
"According to refugees and service providers, gangs control access to important resources such as caravans, play a role in determining who gets access to the vendors' area and dictate prices on the black market," the report said.
It said that many boys living in Zaatari had joined armed groups that are active in Syria, while some adolescent girls participated by cooking for the insurgents.
"Boys are reportedly returning to Syria after using Zaatari camp as an interim source for medical treatment... There have been recent allegations of recruitment of boys in the camp by armed groups coming from Syria and these are being monitored."
As of June 4, there were 470,573 Syrian refugees in Jordan, UNICEF said, of whom 53 percent were children under 18 years of age, while around 120,000 Syrian refugees were crowded into Zaatari.
UNICEF said that without a rapid change in the scale of the international community's response, "the situation for Syrian refugees in Jordan will become progressively untenable."
"Yet investments must be made in Syrian refugees to help build resilience in themselves, their families and their communities."
Last week the United Nations launched a record aid appeal for Syria, saying a total of $3.8 billion was needed to help refugees who have spilled across the country's borders to escape fighting back home. The figure for operations inside Syria was put at another $1.4 billion.
On Thursday the United Nations said more that 93,000 people, including over 6,500 children, had been killed in the Syrian civil war since it erupted in March 2011.