RUWEISHED, JORDAN, SEPT. 8 -- They huddled together with their backs to a desert storm, tens of thousands of Asian refugees who fled Kuwait crouching in the wind as pink, dusty gusts covered them and a fog of filthy air settled in. There was little to eat but sand.

At 8 a.m., under a blinding sun, a long chain of Indians, Sri Lankans, Filipinos and Bangladeshis waited in a line snaking through the desolate desert for more than a half-mile waiting for breakfast: a small piece of dry pita bread and a tomato the size of a strawberry.

With their dirty sarongs flapping in the wind, they pushed and shoved, clutching one another by their shoulders and standing elbow to elbow as they maneuvered to get in place to receive supplies expected here today from Jordan's capital, Amman.

The supplies never got here, a tent city in a desert no man's land between Jordan and Iraq known as Shaalan 1. A truck carrying eggs was expected but did not arrive, and the closest the refugees got to any rice and biscuits was hearing how the food was stuck in warehouses and on planes far from this stark stretch of desert.

A Jordanian official here turned back a truckload of protein biscuits after mistaking the date of manufacture -- 1986 -- for an expiration date.

"I am very hungry indeed. Between yesterday and today I ate one kilogram of dust," said Saleh Muhammad Shamsuddin, 35, from Bangladesh, as clouds of sand temporarily cleared away, revealing a human sand dune of refugees limply settled on piles of luggage.

These people, who had fled Kuwait after the Aug. 2 Iraqi invasion and had been living in desert camps, left their tents two days ago, thinking buses would come and take them to the Jordanian capital from where they hoped to depart to their homelands.

Some 30,000 Asians waited by the side of the road today in vain, as panic-level tension grew in the Shaalan 1 settlement.

Relief supplies from around the world have just started arriving in Jordan, which has been overwhelmed as it has tried to feed more than 150,000 refugees, some of them stranded outside Jordan's borders with Iraq and others stuck in and around Amman.

Jordan's infrastructure of volunteers, doctors and social workers is strained as some work around the clock to try to maintain order at the camps, where refugees are growing more and more angry and frustrated at the conditions under which they must live

A young Jordanian doctor, one of seven working at Ruweished, which is just inside the Jordanian border, became angry today when asked about the dissatisfaction growing among the residents.

"There are no international organizations helping us. We are working 24 hours a day and staying here around the clock," complained Dr. Ayes Odat.

An Indian engineer, who presented his business card in this unlikely setting, complained bitterly about the rough treatment he said he has received from Jordanians and International Committee of the Red Cross workers in the camp.

"They think we are all bastards and bloody nonsense," he said. "They {do} not think we are men. They are distributing food one kilometer {more than half a mile} away from the camp," V.V. Nair said, as he held a towel around his head to protect his ears and throat from the reddish sand. He said relief workers pushed them around and talked to them "as if we are criminals."

Despite a host of United Nations agencies becoming involved in the relief efforts for the refugees transiting Jordan, virtually no U.N. officials or representatives were in evidence here today. The Middle East Council of Churches, the Menonites and other Christian groups, as well as the Moslem Brotherhoods, are scrambling to help the refugees.

Bernard Kouchner, France's state secretary for humanitarian action, said at a news conference in Amman on Friday that international organizations did not discover the extent of the problem along Jordan's border in time to prevent the current disaster.

"I saw their faces. They are very abandoned, very lost, very lonely, and they don't understand what is happening to them," Kouchner, who visited the three Shaalan settlements by helicopter on Friday, said of the evacuees.

"Shaalan is like an oil fire. It is feeding itself. No one can control Shaalan 1," said Jim Nuttall of Save the Children, as he sat in a tent of the New Mercy Camp, known here as Shaalan 3, a new cluster of tents in the desert that has started receiving Bangladeshis.

Even as some of the refugees are transported out of the camp toward Amman, new arrivals stream in through the Iraqi border, suitcases balanced on their heads as they scan the horizon for an extra tent or a place to rest out of the sun. In this crowded, restive camp, 40 to 45 people sleep under one tent that measures about 3-by-4 yards.

With food scarce, entrepreneurs sell watermelon, cucumbers, processed cheese, yogurt and bottled water from the backs of the trucks around the periphery of the camp.

They hawk their goods at exorbitant prices, taking advantage of a hungry population stuck in the middle of nowhere.

A Jordanian moneychanger with wads of dollars and Kuwaiti, Jordanian and Iraqi dinars roamed the camp with his own exchange rate.

As Indians and Bangladeshis thronged around him shouting and protesting, "You {are} drinking our blood," Muhammad Saaed snapped back: "You go to bank. You go to bank slowly." To this retort the evacuees had no answer.

As U.N. agencies remain in a quandary over who is best suited to secure, administer and transport badly needed supplies, the refugees languish in squalid conditions, malnourished and sickly. A skeleton medical staff of Jordanian and Dutch doctors, nurses and Red Cross workers are trying to keep up.

Everywhere around Shaalan 1 and 2 -- at the water pump, the bread lines and the improvised little stoves, as well as in the makeshift, bare clinics -- men and women can be heard and seen coughing uncontrollably and spitting dust in the sand.

Dr. Attallah Asaad, a hygiene specialist and administrator at the small 10-bed Ruweished hospital just inside the Jordanian border, said an average of 100 scorpion bites are treated daily at his facility with serum.

Heart patients, asthmatics, a person with a perforated duodenal ulcer and dozens of refugees with scabies were among the camp casualties, he said. "The greatest fear is the outbreak of epidemics," said Dr. Bassam Asaad, a general practitioner and one of 20 doctors and specialists brought to the Ruweished hospital to cope with the emergency.

There are about 16 United Nations officals in Amman, five of whom are teaching courses in emergency relief management, but they are virtually unnoticed here.

"We are not operational here in the sense that we have trucks and make our own distributions," said Claus Wiersing, an official of the U.N. Disaster Relief Organization.

"The United Nations is here to assist the Jordanian government, not to substitute for it. We have no staff in the camps," he said.

"We are certainly seeing a lack of coordination between the direction of the relief effort and the field level. The lack of experience is combined with too many inputs from different places," said Mercedes Sawagues, spokesman for the World Food Program.

"First of all, the aid is late. Second of all, it is slow. And third of all, it is not enough," complained Dr. Ahmed Abul Ghouri of the Jordanian Red Crescent Society.