STORY: Zaatari Refugee Camp Marks 10 Years - UNHCR
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: Friday 29 July 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
As Za’atari refugee camp marks 10 years, war-weary Syrians still face uncertain future
Ten years since Jordan’s Za’atari camp opened its doors to 80,000 displaced Syrians, poverty now affects an increasing number of residents who face an uncertain future, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Friday.
“With the increase in food prices across the world, many refugee families are struggling to meet their basic needs on a daily basis,” said Dominik Bartsch, UNHCR Representative in Amman. “There is of course food assistance provided, but overall, household incomes are declining rapidly and we’re seeing the level of poverty increasing in the camp.”
According to UNHCR, two in three refugee families in Za’atari say they are in debt and 92 per reported resorting to negative coping strategies, such as reducing food intake or accepting high-risk jobs. These numbers have been going up at a worrying pace.
And after UN-led constitutional talks between Syria’s warring sides were postponed at the start of the week, humanitarians remain particularly worried for Syrian children housed at Za’atari, for whom the camp “has become their world”, said Mr. Bartsch.
“Prospects for return for the time being do not look promising. We are not seeing an environment in Syria that would be conducive to returns, but it is nonetheless reassuring that refugees when asked would they consider returning back home, overwhelmingly respond positively.”
More than 20,000 births have been recorded in Za’atari camp since its opening, Mr. Bartsch noted, before pointing to the “limited opportunities for the many children who are born in the camp and have seen no other environs than the camp itself”.
Crediting the camp with “saving thousands of lives and providing work and opportunities “for Jordanians and Syrians alike”, the UN refugee agency official warned that the situation was not sustainable, with its weather-beaten temporary shelters increasingly showing their limitations.
“The caravans, which replaced tents in 2013, have a normal life span of six to eight years meaning most of them are now in need of urgent repair…In 2021 alone, over 7,000 refugees requested support for maintenance as roofs and windows cracked and walls warped, leaving some residents exposed to the elements,” he explained.