January 25, 2014

Written by: Hannah Myrick Anderson


As Syrian peace talks continue, women in refugee camps face a lack of basic resources and the loss of a structured community.


The dozens of bustling people and the swirling dust make it hard to see very far down the main street that runs through Zaatari, the largest Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. The road is lined with ramshackle stalls made of corrugated steel, pieces of aluminum and planks of wood. These little shop stalls display plastic-mannequin heads modeling hijabs, piles of fly-covered vegetables and stacks and stacks of World Food Program boxes. “Not for sale” read the sides of the boxes, but here on the street their contents are spilled out, sorted, and sold. There is a mechanic shop where men are welding and tinkering. There is a barber. There are several restaurants. Young boys push wheelbarrows full of things they have purchased or things they have received from the UN. Shopkeepers yell prices at the passers by.


They call it the Champs-Él...

January 25, 2014

By Bruce Campion-Smith


Zaatari camp in northern Jordan is home to 100,000 refugees and new Syrians arrive daily seeking to escape the violence.

AL-MAFRAQ, JORDAN—Just hours after crossing from a dangerous past into an uncertain future, the exhaustion and shell shock still play out across Ali’s face.


In the cover of darkness Friday, he had slipped into Jordan from war-torn Syria, the latest desperate move in a year-long odyssey to stay ahead of the fighting — and stay alive.


It had meant a 17-hour drive to the border — at almost $150 a head for him and his family — and then a nighttime walk to elude Syrian government forces to get into Jordan, which has become safe haven for tens of thousands of Syrians like him.


PHOTOS: Harper visits Jordan refugee camp


And now Friday morning, Ali was in the Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan with his family — and the small cluster of belongings they could take with him. He was joined on the escape to safety by his wife, daughter, brother, niece, a...

January 24, 2014

By Campbell Clark


In a region he sees as troubled by extremism, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has picked an Arab country to support: Canada is giving aid to bolster moderate Jordan as it copes with an influx of thousands of Syrian refugees.

The $105-million aid package, announced as Mr. Harper made his first visit to the palace of King Abdullah, is not direct humanitarian assistance for Syrians who are lodged in camps in the country’s north. This is money for fragile Jordan, to help fund its overburdened education system and for security.

Mr. Harper arrived Thursday to a brief blast of trumpets that broke the royal hush in the courtyard of the white-stone Al-Hummar palace. He was welcomed by an honour guard in long tunics and kaffiyeh, and strolled quickly into a meeting with King Abdullah.

At the outset of a larger meeting that included ministers and officials, Mr. Harper made it clear he’s seeking to bolster Jordan with more aid and trade, and co-operate on regional security issues.


January 23, 2014

By Nate Rawlings


For nearly three bloody years, the civil war in Syria has caused violence on a horrific scale. Roughly 120,000 were killed before the U.N. stopped counting, nearly 5 million have been internally displaced, and since it opened in July 2012, more than 120,000Syrians have found refuge in Za’atari, Jordan.

By many estimations, Za’atari is the world’s second-largest refugee camp, behind Dadaab in eastern Kenya, but the term “camp” doesn’t do justice to the size, scale and complexity of either settlement. “If you think about a refugee camp, what you basically have is a small city,” says Dr. Stephanie Kayden, director of the Humanitarian Studies program at Harvard University. “You have not only tents, but you have a hospital, schools, a market, and a food distribution center.” In many ways, Za’atari resembles a rather large city–there are 12 medical clinics or hospitals, 477 communal water tanks and 12,000 students packed into three schools.

This satellite imagery comparis...

December 6, 2013

EASTERN JORDAN –  As evening gathers across a desert plain in eastern Jordan, 80-year-old Muteea Talaa stands with 200 other starved, cold and wet refugees on the Syrian side of a muddy ditch marking the border between the two countries, waiting for a signal from a Jordanian army patrol to cross over.

When the soldier is convinced that it's safe to move, he waves them across: "Proceed, walk over quickly." The refugees — with personal belongings wrapped in bundles on their shoulders — run across the shallow ditch. Then Talaa, now in the back row, frantically screams: "Where is my disabled son?"

Soldiers help her find her 45-year-old son Mohammed, who she says lost his ability to speak as a child. But she was shaken by the experience. "I lost so many loved ones in the war back home and I was afraid to lose my son," she said, as the Syrians wait in the chill of an early evening winter rain to be taken to a processing facility and from there to a refugee camp.

Talaa spoke to reporters on a da...

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