Wherever I visited in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan which houses about 45,000 people who have fled from the fighting in Syria, people were quick to talk about their needs, whether the discussion took place with individuals, groups or families it was always the same.
For people from largely middle class backgrounds, communal kitchens, shower and latrine facilities for several families each and lack of electricity and running water were great inconveniences.
But there was also growing concern over the approaching winter. Temporary shelters were inadequate and need winterizing, heaters will be critical and warm clothing especially for children might mean the difference between misery and some level of comfort.
Another concern was health care. There are three well equipped hospitals on the site but referral to outside hospitals for major disease or injury was hard to get.
But with all these worries it took very little time at all for every discussion to turn to the war in Syria. To them it was not an uprising or a conflict as often portrayed in western media – it was war. The stories of destruction of their personal property, of being hunted when it was known they sympathized with the rebels or deserting the army when asked to kill countrymen were compelling.
And they also wanted to know what was wrong with us. Why weren’t western countries ending the war by enforcing a no fly zone as in Libya or forcing the Russians to withdraw support from Syria or some other joint action. They are confused and disturbed by the West’s lack of concern and action.
As ten year old Hassin asked, “Why don’t you want to end this war? We just want to go home and start our lives over again.”
Community Relations Director