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Al Jazeera America: Jordan's Rural Poor Chafe Under the Burden of Hosting Syrian Refugees

Author: Rania Abouzeid
October 21, 2013

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"[N]ot all the refugees who have arrived in Zaatari want to live in the camp, with its common toilets and kitchens, disease and crowding. As a result, the sleepy village that is home to 12,000 Jordanians has been transformed by the arrival of several thousand refugees."

The cylindrical water trucks, their precious cargo sloshing inside, amble along the dusty road separating the small Jordanian village of Zaatari from the massive Syrian refugee camp that has taken its name. They do not stop at the village, which, like most of this desert state, is parched. Instead, they roll on to the camp, past the gray armored personnel carrier at its gate and into the sprawling warren of caravans and tents that is now Jordan's fourth-largest city.

It is often said that there was little except scorpions and sand in this forgotten patch of Jordan before waves of refugees from across the nearby border with Syria brought the camp into being a year ago. That's not quite true. Before the Syrian Zaatari, there was the Jordanian one — and today the two coexist uneasily.

The refugee camp, the second largest in the world, houses at least 120,000 Syrians, a fraction of the almost 550,000 who have sought sanctuary in this country of 6 million since the outbreak of Syria's civil war. But not all the refugees who have arrived in Zaatari want to live in the camp, with its common toilets and kitchens, disease and crowding.

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