Jordan’s Refugee Camp Situation

The entrance to Zaatari is full of people for and security reasons you need to get permission from  7 different agencies to get in.  The refugees that are in Zaatari are mostly without paperwork when they came to Jordan.  The only way that they are abale to get out is thru a Jordanian or a Syrian that will vouch for them- it is called a bail out.  Upon entrance you will see people in two different lines – on line is for visitors coming to see the people inside – local friends etc.  The other line that goes into a tent is new people coming in. They have to register their names, their village and how they arrived into Jordan. Once they are processed they are given a tent, two mattress per person, blankets, and a ration of food and hygiene products.  They then need to go and find a place where they can set up.  The people that arrived at the beginning of this war are at the front and they have been upgraded to getting the pre fab containers to live in – theer are commual kitchens for groups and also bathrooms.  But with over 67,000 people in the camp you can imagine what the restroom facilities are like.

When I first came to Jordan I was not going to do much at the camp, but I was going to concentrate on the urban refugees (those who are living in the cities and not in the camps).  Well, that has changed and it seems that there are still so many needs in the camp.  There is a mafia style organization that has taken control  -the strong against the weak.  If you do not speak up about your needs you will just left to fend for yourselves.  You have a person in charge of each little neighborhood.  The charity organizations give the goods to this person and then he distributes them out, if you are a good friend or someone that might do something for him the better you are treated.  I think this is human nature that takes over  – survival for the fittest.

When we entered the camp I had my camera out, the soliders saw it and came over and wanted to take me into the security tent for questioning.  The rest of the group said I was not taking pictures and I had to show them that I had not taken anything, it got very tense for awhile, and then they let us thru. We had gotten permission to go in by car and the
the first place we went was the Saudi clinic where we met the director and he split us
into groups so we could see where they did their surgeries and also the children and womens programs.  The doctors started working almost right away.  They saw one girl, about 14 years of age, that had a broken wrist that had not been fixed right. She was in a cast, and Dr. Humam (a member of our team) removed the cast and realised her wrist was not set properly and she needed to get an operation right away to correct this so she would not be handicapped for life.  When we tried to get permission to take her out of the camp they said no. She is a “Cold Case” – low priority since she did not have an open wound and it was not urgent.  She was cold and shivering and I had a coat in the car that had been donated and we had to hide it and take it to her.  It turned out that we are not allowed to
bring in items and donate direct to the people.  They need to go thru a channel.  The bureaucracy is just like living in any city of the middle east and worse.

The doctors were so frustrated that we are not able to take patients out – the director of the Saudi cinic where we saw the girl with the broken wrist said there was nothing that he could do.  There are so many cases like this that a system has to be set up in place where these things can be taken care of or we are going to be dealing with a high percentage of permanently disabled people.

We went to the French, Moroccoan, and Qatar clinics – there are 7 clinics in all at the camp – not enought for all the people and more and more refugees are coming in each day.

There are three camps in Jordan: Zaatari has gotten the most publicity. Kings Garden is  where the Syrian soliders that deserted go, and then there is another camp where they have 5500 people and are making room for another 23,000 people. Just heard on the news today that they are going to be building a 4th camp.

This is not going to end soon and Jordan is not able to incorporate all these people- Jordan is a smaller country than Syria and also has a lot more desert and a lack of water.

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