From Land to Shelter: Syrian Refugees in Camp Za’tari, Jordan

~~Yesterday, the Jordanian ministry of Foreign Affairs announced  that 150,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into Jordan since the beginning of the Syrian uprising.

Yesterday also, Alexandra Eurdolian, who works for UNHCR from Amman, Jordan, posted the following photographs and text on her FB page. The images and commentary tell a compelling story, harrowing and noble at the same time.

With Alexandra’s permission, I am posting them on my blog.  Thank you, dear Alexandra, for your love of the world,  and your work with UNHCR.~~

(Photo credit:  A. McDonell/UNHCR)

Site planner, Robert Crigan, surveys the land, in preparation for the building of camp Za’tari. He says the most important part of assessing the suitability of a site, is its slope and topography. The flatter the better. Za’tari camp was initially set up to host 10,000 refugees, with a capacity for 113,000 if need be. To date, close to 4,000 people are accommodated, with hundreds more arriving every night.

(Photo:  A. Eurdolian/UNHCR)

When refugees initially arrive at the camp, they are first registered and given a tent assignment and ration card. After registration, families are brought to this reception area, while the head of the household goes to collect household items, such as hygiene kits, blankets, and cooking supplies.

(Photo: A. Eurdolian/UNHCR)

Baby Nour el-deen was one of the first arrivals. He has been in the camp for over a week now, and loves eating tomatoes, as if they were apples. His father, a mobile phone dealer, made the decision to flee Dara’a, Syria, 34 days ago. They fled with very little, but one of the items they took was a narghilé. The camps are dusty and the family misses home very much and wants peace to come to Syria so that they can return.

(Photo: A. Eurdolian/UNHCR)

Setting up a camp can be challenging on a number of fronts. Electricity and running water are two of them. At present, 168 tons of water are being trucked in on a daily basis (that’s roughly 50 liters per person, per day). A plumbing system should be up and running in a few months.

(Photo: A. Eurdolian/UNHCR)

Two boys transport water to their tent on a blisteringly hot day.

(Photo: A. Eurdolian/UNHCR)

Cooling off.

(Photo: A. McDonnell/UNHCR)

Two girls playing in Za’tari camp.

(Photo:A. McDonnell/UNHCR)

A look  at the sprawling tent city of Za’tari. Tents are allocated to families. Families of more than 5 persons, are given a second tent.



About Taline Voskeritchian

Writing teacher at Boston University; translator (from Arabic and Armenian); prose writer; occasional editor; incurable wanderer.
This entry was posted in Ordinary places, Rx for Maladies and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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