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May 31, 2013

Jordan Struggles to Cope with Influx of Syrian Refugees

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The ongoing conflict in Syria has forced many families to abandon their homes and flee the country in order to survive. Many of them end up in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp, which houses more than 120,000 Syrian refugees, including more than 60,000 children. The camp, which is located just 15 miles from the Syrian border, is now the second largest refugee camp on Earth.

Although the refugees have escaped the danger of bombs and guns, they still face a number of challenges in their temporary homes, including illness, hunger and polluted water.

“My children have all been sick for 20 days now,” said 25-year-old Nadia Raja, a refugee who arrived with her five children five weeks ago.

Members of the international aid community say that they are struggling to keep up with the rapid growth of the camps.

“There’s over 500,000 Syrians have come through since March last year, anywhere up to 3,000 to 4,000 per night, which basically means 1,000 families,” said Andrew Harper, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ representative to Jordan. “And this means 1,000 families with women and children who come across with nothing, and we have to provide everything for them. It’s — we have to provide the tents, the food, the water, the health facilities, the protection.”

For now, there is no end in sight for those at the Zaatari camp.

“We don’t talk about it,” said Raja. “It’s hard to know. There’s no electricity. There’s no TV. We don’t know what’s going on in the world.”


“It’s better to die [in Syria], actually, because here you would die from hunger,” – Abdul Mounim Droubi, refugee.

Warm up questions

1. What is a refugee?

2. What do you know about what’s happening in Syria right now?

3. What is a civil war?

Discussion questions

1. Whose responsibility is it to take care of refugees?

2. Do you think the international community should intervene in Syria to prevent the spread of violence?

3. How would you feel if you were a refugee in Syria? What would you do?

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