The Zatari refugee camp opened in July 2012. At that time there were 500 refugees. The last week every day there are about 1000 refugees coming to the camp. In the meanwhile the number has grown to 32.217 refugees. As of 03 September 2012, a total of approximately 2,400 tents and 336 camp building/tents structures were identified with a high degree of confidence within the well-defined and structured camp site encompassing a current area of approximately 84Ha. Refugees there have mostly walked more than 30 km from Dara'a through the border valley controlled by the FSA and into Jordan. It certainly isn’t an easy journey to make and. the level of desperation from these families is obvious. They talk about houses destroyed, relatives killed with machetes and bombs dropped day and night. It’s a story most of the rest of the world has now heard, listening with horror.
Although the Syrian refugees found safety, there situation stays precarious, because of the fact that the conflict keeps continuing in the camp. When there are people killed in Dara'a or other cities this leads most of the time to fights in the camp. Like wise the Jordanian Police had to intervene a few days ago with the result that there were 4 police man injured. Also the human conditions are not always good. The refugees drink most of the time hot water and the sanitation that are present are not always very hygienic. Also the food is not adapted to the Syrian taste and most of the time insufficient for bigger families. Some families also complained that their children do not have enough clothing. Ngo's, the government and UNHCR do everything to support the refugees in the best way, but this can't prevent that an informal economy develops in order to alleviate the needs of the refugees.
There are 3 medical projects in the camp: a Moroccan field hospital for general medicine, a French hospital for surgery and a Jordanian hospital created financed by the Italian government . The last weeks the amount of heavy injured people decreased. The general tendency is that people are treated in Syria to make the journey to Jordan. On 11th of September the Jordanian authorities started a mayor vaccination campaign, because the risk of infection is high in the refugee camp.
The chances are high that the camp will be replaced very soon, because if there is a lot of rain the camp might flood because it's build in a valley. The uncertainty for the refugees stays high.
children struggle to cope with refugee life
Mohammed Ameen: "I used to play football with my friends; they were like my brothers. Now, I have no idea where they are or if they are even alive," Now in Zatari: "We hardly play football. There is a play area in the camp, but my parents do not let me go there because it is far from our tent and people older than me play there as well," Zakaria Hoshan said.
In an effort to ease the hardship of refugee life for the camp’s young residents, international organizations have created spaces for children to play, UNICEF communication specialist Samir Badran said.
"There are four safe centers supported by the UNICEF at Zaatari camp designed for children to play and learn,” Badran said, adding that each of these centres includes three large tents that can accommodate up to 50 children at a time and host recreational programmes supported by UNICEF and implemented by Save the Children. "It gives them a chance to meet new friends as well," he pointed out.
Many of the children at the Zaatari camp have not been to school since even before they fled their countries. Mustafa Hariri said that he missed his school days, which ended with the start of the conflict in Syria early last year. "When the violence began, no one dared to go to school," the seven-year-old said. His mother, who refused to reveal her name, said that with Syrian regime forces firing on demonstrators and doing battle with armed rebels, she had stopped sending her son to school out of fear that he would be caught in the crossfire."My husband and I were scared that we would lose our son," she said. "I hope that my child will have the chance to continue his studies in the camp." Under an agreement signed on Monday by the Bahraini Royal Charity Organization and the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization, which administers the camp, mobile schoolrooms will be set up in the camp for children to continue their disrupted education.
Many of the refugee children bear psychological scars from the horrors they witnessed in Syria and the trauma of fleeing their homes. Abu Hassan said his neighbor’s two-year-old child’s first word was “tank”. "Normally, the first word children should say is ‘mother’ or ‘father’, but our children learned the names of tanks and weapons because that was what their families were talking about," he said. Hariri indicated that his son’s mind had been deeply affected both by the violence he witnessed back home and by the ordeal of fleeing his country."When we were forced to leave our home, my son was physically and psychologically exhausted from the journey we took to reach Jordan,” he said. “My son is totally changed: Now, he fears everything.” Badran said relief workers were aware of the psychological traumas these children were facing, explaining that some children exhibited involuntary urination, isolation, or aggressive behaviour when they first arrived at the camp.
"Our centers record these cases and social workers from Save the Children meet with them and help them confront these obstacles," he added.
In spite of everything they have faced, the Syrian children still look forward to returning home and reuniting with their friends.
"I still have a slight hope that I will go back home and play football with my friends and watch FC Barcelona matches together," Majid said.
Two Syrian refugees get married in Jordan’s Zaatari camp
Two Syrian refugees held their wedding at the Zaatari camp on Sunday (September 09). Huthaifa Hareeri and Hanan Hareeri, from Deraa, have been betrothed for a year. But as the conflict in Syria dragged on, their dream to be married was becoming more difficult. “The situation there is bombardment, you know, the army attacks us. The bombardment has left us no space to get married. We came here,” said Huthaifa. Syrian men and women performed traditional wedding songs and dance at the desert camp. Huthaifa misses the presence at his wedding of some relatives still living in Syria.
“Well, our happiness is not complete, because I still have family in Syria. Some family members are here and some are there. It is not full happiness,” he said.