By FOX News Radio’s Emily Wither at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan
A few hours at Zaatari camp and you’re desperate to leave. It’s dusty, hot and there’s little privacy. Children run between the rows of tents in a haze of sand and harsh sun.
Their mothers hang clothes on the strings of their new homes only for them to be covered in dust again moments later. Conditions are tough in this desert camp, the sand cakes people’s clothes, there’s nowhere to escape the sun and there’s not a lot to do.
People’s stories are similar, “In Homs they were shelling, bombing and attacking; they kill everyone.” Haliel arrived a week ago with his five kids.
Within minutes of talking to someone, the circle around you begins to get wider and louder with everyone shouting at once. Partly because people are angry, partly I imagine because people are bored.
“The whole world is watching the Syrian people get killed and not doing anything,” someone shouted.
Around 35,000 refugees call this camp home and with a couple hundred arriving on a near daily basis, the Jordanian authorities are struggling with already limited resources. Many people complain about the poor facilities and the cleanliness of the water. Many wish to go home but they know they won’t and can’t.
But in this time of civil war, the school tents sound like a place to be a kid again. Laughter, clapping and smiling faces greet me on entering the fenced off area guarded by Jordanian military. With around half of the refugees under the age of 18, UNICEF and Jordan’s Ministry of Education have opened 14 school tents. Make-shift stores have also sprung up within the winding tents selling everything from onions to second-hand shoes.
In another large tent, groups of men swarm over something on the floor. At first I think it’s a game. Then I realize it’s a power point jammed with plugs as people desperately try to charge their cell phones. People complain there are only a handful of sockets for thousands of people.
At this desert camp the seasons are changing. The refugees have battled the heat, but soon it’ll be winter and they’ll have to battle the freezing lows. The tents won’t cut it.
Ali Bibi from UNHCR tells me they need help to build more permanent structures, “Winter is a huge challenge, whether to accommodate these refugees in prefabs or providing them with appropriate clothes” he says. He adds that without international support, it’s going to be difficult, “Jordan has provided everything it can… they can’t do it alone.”
Bibi tells me he’s not worried about what will happen in a couple of months, he’s worried right now.
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