ZA’ATARI, Jordan, 17 August – The number of Syrian refugees crossing to Jordan is rising. To date, more than 7,000 people live in the tented Za’atari camp in Mafraq, north of Jordan. They are battered with frequent sand storms, hot weather and lack of natural shade. Report by Hala Abu Khatwa.
UNICEF correspondent Hala Abu Khatwa reports on Syrian refugees struggling with harsh conditions and scarce basic facilities at a camp in Jordan.
Umm Karam, 24-years-old came from Daraa with her husband and two children, going through a tough journey only to find themselves in difficult conditions at Za’atari.
“My son has asthma. Look how we live here – I wish they’d improve our conditions a bit. Our houses were destroyed and we came here hoping to find a better place to stay, but look at the dust and dirt,” she says.
UNICEF and its partners are stepping up work to overcome the challenges at the camp and to provide adequate water and sanitation to all people in Za’atari. They’ve expanded the construction of latrines, bathing facilities, washing basins, and mobile washing units. Drinking water is trucked on daily basis to the camp and soon a new well will be drilled to serve the area.
According to Mohamad Al-Najjar, Minister of Water and Irrigation in Jordan, “There is a priority in general for water, particularly with regard to the health conditions of children. The Ministry of Water and Irrigation has allowed digging wells and we are also supplying water to the area, especially to this camp for UNICEF to care for children.”
With little to enjoy in the desert surroundings, children in Za’atari find relief at the Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) and playgrounds supported by UNICEF and its partners Save the Children and Mercy Corps. Children join daily morning sessions at the CFS where they talk, sing, play, and draw and receive psychosocial support.
10-year-old Rouba and her family were forced to leave their home in Daraa because of bombing, walking for three hours to cross the borders. Now, despite the rough times she’s been through, she finds some joy at the CFS in Za’atari camp.
“I don’t like the dust at the camp, but I like the playground,” she says. “It is fun, though I miss my playmates and my cousins, who are still in Syria.”
With the increasing number of Syrian refugees crossing to Jordan, there is a growing need for expanding services in an attempt to meet the basic needs of the refugees and alleviate their suffering.