I took this pic in a Syrian refugee camp in Iraq (when I traveled there in December with Reverend Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse) and the story below is about a different Syrian refugee camp (in Jordan) but the message is the same: these people are suffering. There is also a refugee camp in Lebanon. People in refugee camps are stateless…cold…hungry…and scared.
Last week we got news that Syria’s President Assad very recently used more chemical weapons against his citizens who remained behind – who did not flee to a refugee camp. Have we forgotten these people, the ones left behind in Syria and the ones living in the horrible conditions of a refugee camp? I am not sure what to do but I do know we should be thinking about this, talking about this. This is a humanitarian crisis. It is also a huge burden (economic, security) on the host countries of Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.
President Obama needs to define our policy. Wat the US is going to do or not do? He flubbed it with that ‘red line’ remark and then outsourcing the problem to President Putin. Since he outsourced it, the Syrian crisis fell off the radar screen for most in the media.
Well…the AP story below, along with the terrible news that President Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against civilians in the last few weeks should pop this story up on media radar screens.
ZAATARI, Jordan (AP) — Life in Jordan’s Zaatari camp is getting harder for 130,000 Syrian refugees, most of whom have fled fighting in southern Syria.
Security has become hard to control in the sprawling, overcrowded camp and refugees are falling victims to strongmen who imposed their power to try to make a living.
Earlier this month, an angry mob of refugees attacked Jordanian police with rocks, prompting police to fire tear gas. There were reports of live ammunition in fighting that killed one refugee and wounded 28 policemen.
The angry protests were sparked after police detained a family of refugees and a driver who tried to smuggle them out of the camp. The U.N. said it was alarmed at the “violent nature” of the demonstration.
Some residents, frustrated with Zaatari, are now leaving to set up new, informal camps on open lands, to escape tensions.
Among them is Abu Hassan, a father of 12 who lost one child in the war in Syria. He said he couldn’t tolerate the camp and feared for his remaining children — one of whom is also wounded with shrapnel in his left leg.
So he fled Zaatari and settled with his family on the outskirts of Amman, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) south of Zaatari. There, he joined others who had set up camp next to a plastic factory in hopes of getting jobs.
The illegal settlement is not recognized by the Jordanian government, but because many of them have sprouted around the country little is done to dismantle them.
Abu Hassan’s camp has fewer than 100 tents, some of them using UNHCR tents from Zaatari and others made of rice and flour sacks. The site has no electricity and no water. Activists come to donate water containers, and the residents feed off the electricity from the factory or the nearby wholesale vegetable market.
Abu Hassan, who agreed to be identified only by his nickname fearing for his own safety, said he worked for the factory for some time, but the owner feared trouble with the government.
For now, Abu Hassan sends his kids to sell and work at the wholesale vegetable market, not far from the settlement.
Here is a selection of photos from the camp by Associated Press photographer Khalil Hamra.
Associated Press photographer Mohammed Hannon contributed to this report.
UPDATE from FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE: (click here to go to the Magazine)