WFP Assists Syrian Refugees in Jordan's Zaatari Camp
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Published on 13 August 2012

A Syrian mother and daughter in front of their tent at the Zaatari refugee camp 15 km from Jordan's northern city of Mafraq near the Syrian border. Copyright: WFP/Maria Anguera de Sojo 

On 29 July, the Zaatari camp in Marfaq, south of the Syrian border, became Jordan’s first official camp for Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their country. As Jordan continues to receive tens of thousands of Syrians, opening this camp had become necessary to accommodate terrified families.

By Faten Al-Hindi

Al Mafraq, JORDAN -- Abo Nawras, 59, reluctantly fled Daraa after fighting intensified. “Life had become hard in the end,” says the father of eight. “God knows how we reached Jordan. Our bus driver dropped us off very late at night a few miles from Ramtha.” Abou Nawras, his wife and children are now in Zaatari camp where WFP is providing welcome meals to Syrian refugees upon their arrival. “It was comforting to find this warm welcome upon our arrival. The people here are all helping us overcome this terrible time of our lives,” Abou Nawras said.

WFP is also providing two daily hot meals during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan -- Iftar and Suhur -- and will start providing family food rations once they are settled and kitchen facilities are installed.

In one of Zaatari’s corners sits Um Murad, 35, who fled Daraa to Jordan with her husband and three children. Both farmers from Daraa, the on-going conflict and insecurity has cost them their source of income and business. According to a recent report the WFP, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Syria’s Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, the Syrian agricultural sector has lost a total of US$1.8 billion this year as a result of the on-going crisis coupled with a prolonged drought.

Um Murad and her family were dropped off at the border and registered to enter Al-Bashabsheh transit centre in the middle of June. Like more than 900 Syrian refugees, Um Murad and her family were transferred from Al-Bashbashed to Zaatari camp the day it opened.

On the camp’s first day, WFP provided welcome meals to more than 900 Syrian refugees who moved there from Bashbasha transit centre. WFP and its implementing NGO partner have also prepositioned welcome meals to cover a weekly average of 3,500 arrivals.

In addition to the Zaatari Camp, WFP is currently providing up to 8,000 people with two daily hot meals in two transit centres in Ramtha, near the border with Syria. 

More than 142,000 have taken refuge in Jordan, 36,000 of them are UN-registered refugees.