- Posted September 9, 2012 by
Tidal Wave of Syrian Refugees Overwhelms Resources in the Za'atari Camp
On the long, beaten-dirt road from the front entrance of the Za'atari Syrian refugee camp to its inner gate, a man in his early 30s candidly describes his regret at coming to Jordan: "I've seen death in Syria and humiliation here - if I could choose again, I'd choose death there."
Located in northern Jordan 15 kilometers outside of the city of Mafraq, Za'atari camp was set up in a particularly unforgiving patch of desert. The ground is covered in a fine dust and every footfall propels it airborne. The area is racked by severe winds, churning the dust into sandstorms that deposit silt on every person and inside every structure. Scorched by the sun, tents set up a little over a month ago already look like they have been there for years.
In the group receiving areas, where families wait days before being assigned their own tent, small children and infants lie prone and seemingly lifeless on filthy mattresses. The smell of feces is almost suffocating. Children are at risk from any combination of disease, dehydration, and exposure.
The Za'atari camp is currently teetering on the edge of crisis, with thousands of refugees pouring in every day. Camp officials are fighting a losing battle to accommodate them. According to the camp's General Director, retired Brigadier General, Mahmoud al-Amaesh, 23,000 refugees were housed there as of Wednesday, August 29. The Jordanian government and aid organizations on site do not have the capacity to provide basic services such as showers, electricity, and protection from the elements. The atmosphere is tense.