Zaatari at One Year: On Sidelines of War, Refugees Struggle for a Better Life

Published on 30 July 2013

Initially carved out of the desert as a short-term refuge for up to 60,000 refugees, Zaatari has become Jordan’s fourth largest city and the world’s second largest refugee camp behind Dadaab in eastern Kenya. Calling Syrians their brothers and sisters, Jordan allowed refugees to go directly into major cities and already desperate communities. (..) As the war rages, Zaatari is just about full, and Harper says those advances have aided in planning and building another camp capable of housing 130,000 refugees. That’s a lot of pressure when much of the world assumes refugees are safe once they have crossed out of Syria. The high visibility of the camp — two of its most recent visitors were U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida — has kept Harper’s team, NGOs and aid groups “on our toes” with little room for mistakes.

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