Largest camp for Syrian refugees becoming a city

November 1, 2013 | By | Reply More

Nov 01, – Zaatari, a desert camp near Jordan’s border with Syria, is far from that ideal. Life is tough here. The strong often take from the weak, women fear going to communal bathrooms after dark, sewage runs between pre-fab trailers and boys hustle for pennies carting goods in wheelbarrows instead of going to school.

hromedia - Largest camp for Syrian refugees becoming a cityThe manager of the region’s largest camp for Syrian refugees arranges toy figures, trucks and houses on a map in his office trailer to illustrate his ambitious vision. In a year, he wants to turn the chaotic shantytown of more than 100,000 people into a temporary city with local councils, paved streets, parks, an electricity grid and sewage pipes.

But with Syria’s civil war in its third year, the more than 2 million Syrians who fled their country need long-term solutions, said Kilian Kleinschmidt, who runs Zaatari for the U.N. refugee agency. “We are setting up … a temporary city, as long as people have to be here,” said Kleinschmidt, a 51-year-old German. The veteran of conflict zones is getting help from urban planners in the Netherlands.

Many in Zaatari residents acknowledge, if reluctantly, that a quick return is unlikely. “At the beginning, we counted (our exile) in months, then years, and now maybe decades,” said Khaled Zoabi, in his 60s, drinking tea and smoking with other refugees in a trailer-turned-men’s social club.

Signs of refugees putting down roots are everywhere, just 15 months after Jordan opened the camp. Many tents have been replaced with trailers, with satellite dishes installed on roofs. Refugees have started hundreds of businesses, offering anything from semi-automatic washing machines and haircuts to freshly baked pastries and ground coffee. The camp has three schools, two hospitals and a maternity clinic.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Arab uprising

Leave a Reply