The Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan: A First Hand View

By Dr. Saud Anwar

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In December of 2015, I traveled to Jordan, where I had the opportunity to observe, first hand, the status of Syrian and other refugees. The purpose of my trip was to determine what we can do, collectively, to lessen the burden. My friend professor Zaid Eyadat and Samar Mohareb, who are associated with the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development Legal Aid (ARDD-Legal AID) helped coordinate my visits to the refugee camps and made my personal interactions with refugees possible.

Jordan is in located in a war-torn region of the world. Since 1940, Jordan has become “home” to a large number of Palestinian refugees. Subsequently, refugees from other parts of the region, including Iraq and Syria, have found safe refuge in Jordan. An estimated 46 different refugee groups are now in Jordan. Seven out of 10 Jordanians are refugees. Syrian refugees in Jordan can be broadly divided into two groups. The camps accommodate 14-20% of all refugees. The urban areas account for 80-86% of the refugees. Among the refugee camps, Zaatari is the largest. It is essentially a city, which presently holds over 80,000 refugees. Zaatari opened in July of 2012. As a physician, I was particularly interested in public health issues. There are five family health care facilities and three hospitals. Otherwise, the delivery of basic services is poor. In particular, poor drainage and hygienic issues related to waste disposal are disturbing. After several years, the refugee community has developed a moderate level of normalcy. There are small shopping centers, mini markets and grocery stores.

I wanted to learn about some of the work that Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD- Legal Aid) is doing in Jordon. I observed ARDD helping the refugees with the registration process, birth and marriage certificates. They also try to ensure that any dealings which refugees have within the Jordanian society are legal. Within the camp, ARDD fosters intellectual growth through such activities as journalism and other types of training. Recognizing that violence against children – often rooted in frustration – and gender based violence exist among the refugees, ARDD has offered parenting and marital counseling. It was enlightening and heartwarming to see this taking place.

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The urban refugee situation is much different than in the camp. In Zaatari, most basic needs are provided. Conversely, urban refugee’s needs are not being addressed by any organization. While the urban refugees preferred not living in a large compound, they have difficulty obtaining the basic necessities of food, water, shelter, healthcare and heat during the winter months. Schools do exist; however social and cultural issues and accessibility are sometimes roadblocks before aspiring students. The need for financing is preventing many schools from providing children with the opportunity to study. As you might guess, higher education options are even more limited.

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I had a discussion with a Syrian fashion designer/tailor, who had lost his left hand as a result of shrapnel wound. He …read more

Source: More Fitness

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