By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
Just over a week ago, we visited the Al-Zaatri camp for Syrian refugees in eastern Jordan. It had only been open for a few days.
On that day, more than 2,000 Syrians, including hundreds of young children and babies, faced extraordinarily tough circumstances. Leaving everything behind, they were now in the safety of a camp, but with restrictions.
The Jordanians maintained tight security and the Syrians could not leave to try to find jobs or homes in Jordan. Some of the refugees had just escaped hours before, some had been in Jordan for several days.
The camp has since tripled in size. The Jordanian government estimates that already 150,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Jordan since March 2011. The camp will be big large to take another 120,000.
What has happened at Al-Zaatri underscores how much the fighting in Syria has become a regional crisis, affecting the surrounding countries.
Jordan already is saddled with a fragile economy and its own political turmoil. Syria's violence and flow of refugees is more trouble it does not need.
A few nights ago, about 50 men at the camp began a small riot. No one was reported hurt, but some of the United Nations staff had to briefly evacuate. It was a lesson in how quickly refugee camps can become places of deep unrest.
Jordan, for now, wants to keep these refugees inside the camp wires.
Officials say they worry Syrian regime agents have sneaked in disguised as refugees and they don't want any potential unrest to spread into Jordan's towns and villages.
The sheer numbers of refugees could overwhelm Jordan, which already struggles with a large Palestinian and Iraqi refugee population.
The refugee flow continues, even as Syrian regime forces fire upon those making their escape. The United Nations notes that for the last several days about 400 refugees a night were being picked up by Jordanian forces as they crossed the border. Over the last two days, the number has dropped to about half that as the attacks increase.
Many of the refugees tell the same story.
Free Syrian Army troops arrange secure routes for large groups of civilians. Jordanian troops - clearly forewarned - are at the border waiting for them. The Jordanians have on occasion fired back at the Syrian troops, essentially providing safe cover for the refugees on their final run for safety.
It could break out into a much bigger cross-border fight at any moment, many worry.
The United Nations is moving rapidly to improve camp conditions. Syrians have been walking long distances at Al-Zaatri to stand in line for bags of food and supplies.
In the last few days, solar-powered lighting is going in so the camp can be made safer at night for everyone. Every tent will get a lantern. Plumbing and water improvements are under way. French and Moroccan field hospitals are moving in.
The day I was there, medical care for the entire camp consisted of two doctors and a midwife, with more on the way.
Inoculations for children will start. There are plans for school lessons and television sets are being bought. The biggest need is for money to buy prefabricated shelters for each family. Plastic tents simply blow down in the never-ending winds.
But if you step back, you see the sudden permanency to what is happening - not just at the Jordanian camp, but at other camps in Lebanon and Turkey.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are now displaced and there is no sign of political progress or a military solution that could let them return home anytime soon.