Floods and misery for Syrian refugees

Photo showing Syrian refugees digging through thick mud, in an attempt to let water out
 
When they first arrived last summer, the sun shone brightly over Zaatari refugee camp. Today, Syrian refugees who have fled their homeland to neighbouring Jordan face daily deluges of heavy rain, which are damaging their fragile new homes.
 
The Middle East has been at Mother Nature’s mercy all week. Snow tumbles down in Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories, while intense rain showers pour over Lebanon and Jordan. Many people are without power in what has become the region’s wettest winter in a decade. Living in makeshift camps often lacking basic facilities, refugees have been hit hard by the recent downpours.
 
Syrian refugees first started arriving at Jordan’s Zaatari camp in July 2012. In just six months, their number has reached 50,000, and over half of them are children. The Jordanian authorities strictly forbid the camp’s dwellers to leave.
 
Video filmed at Zaatari refugee camp (January 7) 
Contributors

"We feel like everyone has abandoned us"

Abou Firas (not his real name) was a shopkeeper in Deraa, the southwestern Syrian city and starting point of the 2011 uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. He has lived at Zaatari with ten members of his family since the end of August.
 
The HCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] is having difficulties dealing with the non-stop rain and wind [Editor’s note: more than 200 tents have collapsed]. The ground is not absorbing rainwater, and so the camp has flooded quickly. Some families have water 40cm deep in their tents. Yesterday, I spent three hours, with other refugees, helping families evacuate their tents.
 
The families have to take shelter in the camp’s schools, which are not very stable either. They’re made out of zinc, but they’re slightly raised from the ground and so more resistant than the tents. The one we went to yesterday with the families was built by the government of Bahrain. It has a capacity of between 2,500 and 3,000 people.
 
The weather has paralysed daily life in the camp. No one leaves their tent unless they have to. We have less contact with each other than before, so we’re feeling more and more isolated.
 
“Members of the Syrian opposition don’t answer my calls anymore”
 
We have received help from the NGOs here, from the HCR and the Jordanian government – that’s undeniable. The civil defense organisation [Editor’s note: equivalent to rescue workers and firefighters] used shovels to dig a way out for the water, so it doesn’t stay here and cause disease. The NGOs have also provided gas heaters. But their help, as precious as it is, is not enough, given how many of us there are. What’s more, the cold snap could cause people to have breathing problems, and I doubt the hospitals we have here, which work out of caravans, will be able to look after all the people who could fall ill.
 
I’ve been able to get hold of phone numbers of some members of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces [the new united front of the Syrian opposition] who are in Jordan. I called them a few days ago. At the start, they got back to me, but they don’t answer my calls anymore. We feel like everyone has abandoned us.
Cet article a été rédigé en collaboration avec Sarra Grira (@SarraGrira), journaliste à FRANCE 24.
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