The refugee camp opened in July 2012 on a site where different Syrian refugees had found shelter in homemade tents. Willemjan Vandenplas was on the spot the 17th of September to make a photo series about the camp. At that moment people were already talking about the possibility that there would be inundations in the camp during the winter when heavy rain would fall. Although this looked like a logical consideration, there hasn’t been made a change of policy towards the camp. Even though in September some organizations proposed to move the refugees to another camp. The reason why this didn’t happen is until today not clear.
How could this happen?
The cause is double, on one side it’s because they dug away the sand in the camp, to withstand the heavy sandstorms, but they dug until they encountered a rocky soil. Likewise the water couldn’t be absorbed anymore. On the other side the camp is built in a valley and all the water from the sometime rocky hills in the surrounding flowed in direction of the camp.
Why didn’t they react more early?
Ali Bibi, Liaison officer of UNHCR, told the press that the tents are made according to international standards, they are waterproof.
Since the last weeks the refugees are in the cold and now the water also flows into their tents, there are large puddles of water around the tents and some areas are totally under water.According to official sources, 500 tents have been destroyed and dozens of families are without a place to sleep. The worst thing is that at the moment there is heavy snow fall in the area.
What is going to happen now?
Almafraq the province where the Zatari camp is located, it’s far from everything; there are no big schools or sports centers where thousands of refugees could stay. The evening of the 7th of January there were riots in the camp. A group of refugees started throwing rocks at the Aid workers. 7 Aid workers got wounded and one had to go to the hospital. According to Ali Bibi, it’s not the first time the groups of refugees riot, it happens all the time. On the 8th of January the Zatari camp was in a state of emergency.
There is not enough financial support for the Syrian refugees, only this month 100.000 people fled Syria. Knowing that one out of two refugees is younger than 18 makes the situation even more difficult.