AZ ZARQA, JORDAN, SEPT. 9 -- Row upon row of neatly arrayed white tents have been pitched behind hillocks of pink sand near here as international aid workers prepare to receive tens of thousands of Asian refugees from occupied Kuwait now packed into festering, sun-baked transit camps in the desert wilderness along the Jordan-Iraq border.

Two migrant villages are being set up here in the bleak landscape 50 miles northeast of Amman by the International Red Cross and the Jordanian Red Crescent in an effort to ease the misery and humiliation of the border camp refugees, for whom hunger, thirst and desperate uncertainty have become facts of daily life.

Sergio Piazzi, a representative of the United Nations Disaster and Relief Organization, said relocation of thousands of Indians, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Filipinos and other Asian workers from the barren border camps 250 miles farther east would allow aid workers to provide them with better care while they wait for arrangements to be made to return them to their homelands.

"We are building a town for 20,000, and the {Red Cross} will take in 30,000," said Dr. Bassam Hadid of the Jordanian Red Crescent, who has worked as a hospital administrator in California. Piazzi said the refugees would be organized in blocs at the new camps according to nationality, as opposed to the haphazard, every-man-for-himself babel of the border camps.

The new camps, erected in 48 hours by more than 200 workers and expected to be ready to accept refugees in a day or so, contain 850 tents each so far, and hundreds more are being flown in from Cairo, relief officials said. A four-inch water main has been installed, but power lines and sanitation facilities have not yet been completed.

"The tents seem impressive, but this is just the beginning," said Kjell Madsen, a Norwegian delegate of the League of the Red Cross and Red Crescent surveying the new camp sites.

The earth is rough and barren and covered with sharp basalt rocks, but Madsen shrugged off a suggestion that the venue is just as harsh as that of the border compounds. "It depends on where you come from or what you expect," he said. "But people at {the border camps} should be prepared for this; their embassies should tell them where they are coming, although I think this is going to be a whole lot better."

"It took 10 to 12 days to get the system together," said Piazzi, in acknowledging the painful delays and official confusion with which the world community initially responded to the plight of the refugees piling up at the Jordanian border.

"In the beginning, no one knew what the others were doing," he said. "It's hard to coordinate when the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing." But today, Piazzi said, there was a meeting "of ambassadors from major donor countries, as well as from countries with nationals at {the border camps}, United Nations people and representatives from non-government organizations" to discuss ways of streamlining the aid effort.

Food, clothing and medical supplies are still scarce outside Amman, but the U.N. relief agency has begun replenishing reserves that the Jordanian government used to care for the hundreds of thousands of people in the initial refugee wave, Piazzi said. Shipments of packaged rations, simple medicines and other basic supplies have begun arriving from the United States and other countries, he said, but he added that "there is still a pressing need for donations to get people airlifted out of here."

In the shadeless heat of the border camps, meanwhile, many refugees complained that they had no idea they would end up trapped there when they decided to flee Kuwait and Iraq. Some said they had been deposited at the camps by bus drivers who had promised to take them directly from Baghdad to Amman for 100 Iraqi dinars (about $300) each.

"Nobody warned me about that. I would have stayed in Baghdad in a hotel," said one Indian engineer denied entry into Jordan until tens of thousands of his countrymen who arrived before him are processed and shipped home.

Jim Nuttall, a representative of the Save the Chidren Foundation at the border camps, said that some women making the journey from Baghdad disembarked from their buses "into this hell" wearing travel suits and high heels. Nuttall said many people dumped at the camps believed it would be just a brief stop and that they would soon be transported to Amman. "They would stand by the side of the road looking up and down, waiting for another bus," he said.

Some protested that they had been cheated by Iraqi bus drivers and travel agents. Typically, Nuttall said, such people would address themselves to one of the handful of deluged relief workers and say: "I have an airline ticket from Amman. Can you call the travel agent? There must be some mistake." Then, Nuttall said, "they would hear from those stuck in the camps for 10 days and panic would set in."

Some of the migrants said they had expected waits of two to three days at the border, not weeks, and certainly not the primitive, degrading conditions they found there.

Enqelab Youssef of Bombay said he had to sell his auto servicing business in Kuwait for a pittance and was now languishing in a border camp with "seven children, as well as my older brother. . . . What to do with a two-month-old baby, please?"

John Thomas, an engineer from southern India, said he had been appointed group leader for a number of his countrymen in the border camp and had been entrusted with coupons for their luggage. Humbled by his experience in the camp, he was still able to display dignity. "We are living in a community now," he said. "There is no difference, big or small; there is a feeling of unity. But even if we get organized more than this, it is not going to get us to Amman."

For Egyptian Anwar Ibrahim, 29, the experience has been a nightmare. "I did not think in my dreams that I would ever be leading the life of a beggar, but we are human beings first," he said. "I lost all my savings of three years . . . and now we have to dig the well from the start for our survival," Ibrahim observed.

Nearby, another refugee seemed about to faint in the noonday heat, and Ibrahim rushed to give him some water. When a reporter offered to reimburse him the two dinars he had paid for the bottled water at black-market camp prices, he refused indignantly.

"We are poor now, but we have feelings," he said. "Please don't hurt our feelings, we know how to share."