Thursday 19th September 2013
Having experienced a developed refugee camp, I was interested in seeing a refugee camp, which had been established only a few months ago.
Al Mafraq is home to many Syrians who have escaped the crisis recently. Many of the refugees originally lived in Zaatari Refugee Camp, which is funded by the UN but have moved to Mafraq due to ‘lack of freedom’.
This was a stereotypical refugee camp location; it was almost deserted with literally no trade nearby. The tents were dotted around the area and there was no sense of community.
There were an alarming amount of children, many of whom were running around barefoot in dangerous conditions.
We received a comforting introduction with the Syrian refugees in one of the camp tents where they kindly explained more about their horrific conditions and their deeply traumatic experience about evacuating their home country.
A child as young at 3 years old drew a military tank aiming at civilians when given paper and pen by UK students. This showed what he had witnessed at present through his physiological state. Although they had moved to safety in Jordan, bombs from this campsite were still visible to the eye.
Everyone was touchingly hospitable – we were offered traditional Jordanian coffee in the tents and the refugees were passionate to describe their personal experiences to us.
I felt the discussion may get heated if we talked too much about Assad/Syria but the refugees were incredibly calm and merely wanted to share their part of the story.
Refugees explained how they weren’t able to access basic human needs, having to pay for water and electricity rather than being offered this by the UN as they were promised.
“They always come to ask us what we need but never come back. We need blankets for winter.”
Before leaving, we witnessed a bomb explosion near the Syrian border. I recall hearing a loud bang and seeing black smoke from the distance.
It’s never felt so real for me, watching it on TV and seeing it firsthand are two very different experiences. Despite living in a safe place within Jordan, these refugees were able to still see the destruction in their home country. It wasn’t right.