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Syrian Refugees at Za’atari Refugee Camp

Za’atariAccording to NPR, approximately four million Syrians have fled from Syria and the civil war that has ravaged the country with violence and conflict for almost five years now. Thousands of Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan; many specifically to one of Jordan’s largest refugee camps, Za’atari.

Za’atari, first opened in 2012, features market-like structures along its main street where goods such as vegetables, basic household equipment and clothes can be purchased.

Shelters consist primarily of tents or shacks with tin roofs. Food and clean water are scarce, along with adequate sanitation and clothing. Za’atari reached 60,000, full capacity, in 2013. As a result, a new camp was built just 20 kilometers away. Approximately 40 percent of all refugees living in Za’atari are children under the age of 12.

According to a report by the United Nations, entitled “Living in the Shadows,” one in six Syrian refugees is currently living in extreme poverty in Jordan, lacking basic human needs such as food, clean water, clothing, shelter and education. Many children and teenagers were forced to drop out of school after being displaced or fleeing from their homes and have not returned to school. Duties in the family, such as businesses or taking care of the home, take priority over education in desperate times for the Syrian refugees.

Almost 50 percent of all refugee shelters in Za’atari have no heat, while another quarter of the shelters lack any sort of electricity.

The U.N. report said that as the Syrian conflict approached its fifth year, many refugees were becoming “increasingly dependent on assistance, with Jordan’s resources and infrastructure being stretched to the limit.”

Jordan currently holds a registered Syrian refugee population of about 620,000, with around 100,000 living in camps.

Northern Jordan has been dramatically altered by the Syrian civil war. Since the uprising began in March 2011 right across the border in the city of Deraa, Jordanians have experienced the conflict via the thousands that have crossed into their country through the towns of Jabir and Ramtha.

– Alaina Grote

Sources: BBC, The Economist, Oxfam America, UNHCR

Photo: Flickr