There are more than a half million Syrian refugees in Jordan. They live in a variety of circumstances. Many are in the camp at Za’atari, but the majority live in towns and villages and still others in their own settlements.
On a barren and rocky piece of abandoned land, only two kilometres from the Syrian border, I visited a group of about a dozen refugee families. They were in what is referred to as an informal settlement.
They receive no help beyond some tents from the UN and very small food rations from the Jordanian government. There is no access to water without paying for it; the same for health care and their children cannot attend the local Jordanian schools. Memories of the conflict from which they fled are always on their mind with the sound of shelling not far away.
They will never show up on the distribution lists for NGO aid because they are not in a formal settlement.
Yet, in spite of the hardship, they choose to live in these conditions. They came a great distance as a group to get to this place. They were all farmers near Aleppo and close to the Turkish border but chose Jordan because the route was more safe even if longer. They want to remain together, supporting one another rather than be dispersed in an urban setting or at Za’atari camp.
Fiercely loyal to one another and deeply determined to survive, they wait patiently to travel those two kilometres to their home country again.
-Tom Brook, CLWR Community Relations Director