Zaatari 04.06.2016   A higher vantage on daily life as seen from the top of a water tower — the highest point in Zaatari— an otherwise flat, barren landscape covering three square miles in the Jordanian desert.   First opened in July of 2012 the camp was initially designed to host a maximum of 60,000 inhabitants and began as a collection of tents in the desert; four years later it is now the 4th largest "city" in Jordan. The camp has grown into a settlement of rows of caravans and has earned the badge of being the world’s largest concentration of Syrian refugees — over half of which are children. In many ways the Zaatari camp has become a small, bustling, makeshift city with hospitals, schools, markets and Syrian men, women and children working each day to create something that resembles the life that they once had outside of the camp.  Located just 13 km from the Syrian border, the camp is but a short drive from what is both a conflict zone and their (former) home.    
       
     
 04.08.2016 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp  Since the eruption of the brutal conflict in Syria in March of 2011, millions of Syrians have fled their homes in search of peace, safety, and some sense of normalcy.  While tens of thousands have and continue to seek refuge in neighboring countries (Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq to name a few), the Zaatari refugee camp (مخيم الزعتري), has quickly become a semi-permanent home for nearly 100,000 individuals, the majority of who once lived in the Da’ara Governorate in Syria’s southwest.  Located 10 km east of the city of Mafraq and first opened on July 28, 2012, the camp is a three-square-mile piece of land in the desolate Jordanian desert; it was initially designed to host a maximum of 60,000 inhabitants and is jointly administered by the Jordanian government and the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). The camp, which has fluctuated in population to as high as 250,000, is now the 4th largest ‘city’ in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan.  As the international community continues to experience variations of “Syria fatigue,” the residents of Zaatari show a resilience and determination of a far higher caliber.  In April 2016, I spent several weeks in the Zaatari camp followed by time in outlying, unofficial "tent camps" and then later in Iraq working with and photographing IDPs (internally displaced persons).  This series is a collection of images and stories of those who I had the privilege to meet, photograph and in many occasions get to know. I have also included a selection of photos that are intended to contextualize the conditions of Zaatari — a walled, tent camp — turned small city — that tens of thousands call home.   * December 2017 update: According to the UNHCR, The Zaatari Camp is still home to 79,987 persons. Their future remains uncertain.    
       
     
 04.04.2016 The wall that surrounds the Zaatari camp  With the conflict in Syria now in its fifth year, those who call Zaatari home represent a fraction of the total number of Syrians who have fled their country, a figure that currently stands at more than 2.5 million.  The statistics are staggering, the sheer scale of the humanitarian crisis difficult, if not impossible, to grasp – even as I stood amongst and spoke with countless refugees, listening to their stories of conflict and violence — I struggled to fully appreciate the scale of displacement and hardship that has become “normal life” for millions.  By the end of my time spent in the Zaatari camp I had only begun to understand the complexities, the anomalies and the truths that are Zaatari— a place that to me helps to characterize the harsh reality of the indiscriminate nature of war, and its effects on innocent civilians.
       
     
 04.05.2016 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp  Al Samara, age 15, of Al-Sawra, Syria. Al Samara, his sister, three brothers, mother and father fled Syria nearly 4 years ago and have been living in Zaatari ever since.
       
     
 Zeinah, age 4, originally of Damascus, Syria Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.05.2016  Since the Syrian conflict erupted over six years ago approximately half of the country's pre-war population of 22 million has been killed or forced to flee their homes. More than 3 million individuals have sought refuge in neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Jordan. Approximately 650,000 Syrians are currently in Jordan and 100,000 of those call Zaatari home. The remaining 85%, and great majority, are struggling to survive in what are widely know as "random camps" many of which are scattered throughout towns, villages and barren land. Like those in Zaatari, they have no legal right to work and little access to education, healthcare, water, electricity or social services.  While much of the world has grown tired of hearing about the Syrian crisis it does not change the fact that conflict and violence in Syria has unleashed one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history, uprooting over 11 million people.   Like Zeinah, pictured here, approximately 3.7 million Syrian children – 1 in 3 of all Syrian children – has been born since the conflict began five years ago, their lives shaped by violence, fear and displacement. According to UNICEF, this figure includes more than 151,000 children born as refugees since 2011.  Estimates assert that some 8.4 million children – more than 80 percent of Syria’s child population – are now affected by the conflict, either inside the country or as refugees in neighboring countries.  As fighting continues, and as the displaced are neither wholly welcomed abroad nor able to return home the future of millions remains an uncertain one.    
       
     
 Children return to their caravans following school lessons Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016  According to the latest reports provide by the UNHCR 55% of the inhabitants of the Zaatari camp are under the age of 18, making the provision of basic education challenging, at best. There are currently several schools operating in the camp, all on a double shift basis, with girls studying in the mornings and boys in the afternoons, regular attendance is markedly low.   Of those in Zaatari, only about 15,000 of an estimated 28,000 school age children are currently enrolled while an estimated 13% of children in Zaatari are engaged in child labor. Of the larger Syrian refugee population of children, it is estimated that, for a myriad of reasons, over 3 million are not attending school.   The United  Nations children’s agency asserts that the war has reversed 10 years of progress in education for Syrian children.
       
     
 Samara, age 11, originally of Homs, Syria Inside the Zaatari Refugee camp. 04.05.2016  War in Syria has caused death, destruction and displacement on a horrific scale. Families have been forced from their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed as a result of relentless violence and the disruption of basic services. More than 4 million people have already fled the country and 6.5 million people are internally displaced. An estimated 13.5 million people are in need of urgent life-saving assistance inside of the country — of which 6 million are children.  Children are particularly vulnerable to child rights violations such as recruitment into armed groups and exploitation and abuse, including forced early marriage and child labor.  Access to education, health care, water, sanitation and social services remains inadequate — even when inside established camps such as Zaatari.     For many humanitarian organizations, the impact of the crisis on a generation of children is a primary and growing concern. While most will survive the conflict physically, the immediate and long-term well-being of children remains as uncertain as the future for this entire generation of kids.
       
     
 Noor prepares a meal as her children play.  Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.21.2016  
       
     
 Zaatari. 4.11.2016 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp  Rehabilitation through sport has been an ongoing effort since the Zaatari camp first opened in July of 2012.   The majority of Syrians arrive to Zaatari having experienced some degree of trauma— whether having either witnessed or experienced torture, death and destruction and having had to make the the risky, often lengthy journey to Jordan.   Sport provides an outlet and an opportunity to form new friendships in what is an otherwise chaotic, challenging and uncertain environment.
       
     
 Daily Life Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016  
       
     
 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     
 Daily life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.11.2016  One can witness an incredible demonstration of resourcefulness and resilience when observing daily life in the Zaatari Refugee camp.   Perhaps the most obvious example of this strength of spirit is the vibrant main drag that runs through the camp. Since opening in the summer of 2012 Zaatari has established and seen flourish an informal and largely underground economy. The camp features a main road entitled Champs-Elysees (a play on the Parisian shopping destination, this market is the thriving core of what is now Jordan’s fourth-largest population center) where one can get a haircut, shop in a produce market, rent a wedding gown or buy ice cream.  While markets such as the Champs-Elysees are not the most common sight in refugee camps, exiled populations throughout the world have long demonstrated tremendous resourcefulness and are never completely dependent on humanitarian assistance.  Wiile it is absolutely true that those in Zaatari are doing everything that they can to make the best of a very difficult situation, we should be very hesitant to call Zaatari a “city” or refer to what those in the camp have been able to do as anything that resembles “normalcy”.   It is not nor will it ever be normal to live behind a barbed wire fence, in a tent or a caravan, and to be deprived of the freedom of movement.  It is not normal, nor will it ever be, to live in a situation where an entire population lacks the rights and entitlements of citizens.   And it is certainly not normal to wake up each day not knowing when or even if you will ever be able to return to the place that you consider to be your home
       
     
 04.16.2016 Daily Life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp
       
     
 04.11.2016 Daily Life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp
       
     
 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.18.2016  With many of those in the camp calling Zaatari home for months, if not years, a largely underground, informal economy has sprung up. Many Syrians have opened shops reminiscent of their trade or industry back home or embarked on an entirely new, entrepreneurial path.   During my time in Zaatari i saw everything from coffeeshops, food stands and barbershops to wedding gown rental boutiques, cell phone repair tents and bicycle shops.   It is estimated that there are over 3,000 refugee-operated shops and businesses within the permitters of the Zaatari camp.    
       
     
 04.05.2016 Daily life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp
       
     
 04.14.2016 Daily Life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp
       
     
 Amal, age 11, originally of Daraa, Syria Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.11.2016
       
     
 Fatmah, age 6, is one of thousands of children who currently call the Zaatari Refugee Camp home. According to a UNHCR report the population of Zaatari hovers right around 80,000 with over half of that number being children and 20% under the age of 5. Fatmah came to the camp with her family in late 2013 -- she enjoys bike rides and playing with some of the other children in the camp.   Each day that I spent in the Zaatari camp was a gift. I felt that then and i feel the same now, as i write this caption. I was permitted to bear witness to the incredible resilience and beauty of the Syrian people where each individual had a story of unimaginable hardship and many children, like the young girl pictured, have never known peace or normalcy. In spite of this, each person that I  met left me in awe and admiration of their resilience, their conscious decision to see the beauty in each day and their ability to cling to a hope for a better future … a future of peace.   
       
     
 Maya, age 7, from Daraa, Syria stands outside of her “home” — a metal caravan where she lives with her mother and siblings. Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.11.2016  Maya has been in the Zaatari refugee camp for nearly two years after she, her mother and siblings fled conflict and bombings in Syria. When she first arrived at Zaatari Maya was able to attend a makeshift school that had been set up in the camp — she and her sister attended for three hours in the morning and her brothers attended for three hours in the afternoon.   Since then, things have changed. Maya and her siblings are no longer in school. Her brothers work odd jobs in the camp and Maya and her sister stay home to help their mother.  In the Zaatari camp, and across the region, boys are dropping out of school so that they can take jobs to earn money for their families while young girls are having their educations cut short so they can be married off at younger and younger ages — too often in an effort to reduce the number of mouths a family has to feed. Begging Syrian children – both during school hours and late into the night – are now common sights on streets throughout the region.   As the crisis in Syria crosses the six year mark, and the headlines focus on military clashes and political efforts to resolve the crisis, the world must not forget the human realities at stake.
       
     
 Syrians use buckets to collect water at a water distribution tank. Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.12.2016  Located in the middle of the Jordanian desert, in a country whose greatest environmental concern is water scarcity, providing water to those living in the Zaatari camp has been an enormous, ongoing struggle.  When Zaatari first opened in July 2012 all water was trucked into the camp — well over 1 million liters carried in 80 tanker trucks each day. Today, water in Zaatari comes from 450m deep borewells dug, purified and delivered by UNICEF and partners. with new cash-for-work programs being tried out in the camp, much of the water is distributed by trucks driven by refugee volunteers. This distribution network, initiated in April 2015, is intended to drastically reduce operational costs, ensure equitable distribution of water to all families and help protect the environment.
       
     
 A father and daughter wait to be seen by doctors at a Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) clinic.  Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016
       
     
 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016
       
     
 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.14.2016
       
     
 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     
 A wedding gown shop provides rental dresses to those who get married while living in the camp.  Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.17.2016
       
     
 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.12.2016
       
     
 Daily Life Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.15.2016
       
     
 The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) utilized this facility to provide several weeks of care to those living in the camp; the building is one of several medical centers within the Zaatari Refugee Camp.  Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     
 Syrians crouch at the fenceline that separates the Zaatari camp from the rest of Jordan; they are attempting to pick up cell phone service.   Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.17.2016
       
     
 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     
 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     
 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016
       
     
 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     
 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.15.2016
       
     
 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     
 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     
 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016
       
     
 Daily Life Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.12.2016
       
     
 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.12.2016
       
     
 Displaced.  Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 4.18.2016
       
     
 Zaatari 04.06.2016   A higher vantage on daily life as seen from the top of a water tower — the highest point in Zaatari— an otherwise flat, barren landscape covering three square miles in the Jordanian desert.   First opened in July of 2012 the camp was initially designed to host a maximum of 60,000 inhabitants and began as a collection of tents in the desert; four years later it is now the 4th largest "city" in Jordan. The camp has grown into a settlement of rows of caravans and has earned the badge of being the world’s largest concentration of Syrian refugees — over half of which are children. In many ways the Zaatari camp has become a small, bustling, makeshift city with hospitals, schools, markets and Syrian men, women and children working each day to create something that resembles the life that they once had outside of the camp.  Located just 13 km from the Syrian border, the camp is but a short drive from what is both a conflict zone and their (former) home.    
       
     

Zaatari
04.06.2016 

A higher vantage on daily life as seen from the top of a water tower — the highest point in Zaatari— an otherwise flat, barren landscape covering three square miles in the Jordanian desert. 

First opened in July of 2012 the camp was initially designed to host a maximum of 60,000 inhabitants and began as a collection of tents in the desert; four years later it is now the 4th largest "city" in Jordan. The camp has grown into a settlement of rows of caravans and has earned the badge of being the world’s largest concentration of Syrian refugees — over half of which are children.
In many ways the Zaatari camp has become a small, bustling, makeshift city with hospitals, schools, markets and Syrian men, women and children working each day to create something that resembles the life that they once had outside of the camp.

Located just 13 km from the Syrian border, the camp is but a short drive from what is both a conflict zone and their (former) home. 

 

 04.08.2016 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp  Since the eruption of the brutal conflict in Syria in March of 2011, millions of Syrians have fled their homes in search of peace, safety, and some sense of normalcy.  While tens of thousands have and continue to seek refuge in neighboring countries (Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq to name a few), the Zaatari refugee camp (مخيم الزعتري), has quickly become a semi-permanent home for nearly 100,000 individuals, the majority of who once lived in the Da’ara Governorate in Syria’s southwest.  Located 10 km east of the city of Mafraq and first opened on July 28, 2012, the camp is a three-square-mile piece of land in the desolate Jordanian desert; it was initially designed to host a maximum of 60,000 inhabitants and is jointly administered by the Jordanian government and the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). The camp, which has fluctuated in population to as high as 250,000, is now the 4th largest ‘city’ in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan.  As the international community continues to experience variations of “Syria fatigue,” the residents of Zaatari show a resilience and determination of a far higher caliber.  In April 2016, I spent several weeks in the Zaatari camp followed by time in outlying, unofficial "tent camps" and then later in Iraq working with and photographing IDPs (internally displaced persons).  This series is a collection of images and stories of those who I had the privilege to meet, photograph and in many occasions get to know. I have also included a selection of photos that are intended to contextualize the conditions of Zaatari — a walled, tent camp — turned small city — that tens of thousands call home.   * December 2017 update: According to the UNHCR, The Zaatari Camp is still home to 79,987 persons. Their future remains uncertain.    
       
     

04.08.2016
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp

Since the eruption of the brutal conflict in Syria in March of 2011, millions of Syrians have fled their homes in search of peace, safety, and some sense of normalcy.

While tens of thousands have and continue to seek refuge in neighboring countries (Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq to name a few), the Zaatari refugee camp (مخيم الزعتري), has quickly become a semi-permanent home for nearly 100,000 individuals, the majority of who once lived in the Da’ara Governorate in Syria’s southwest.

Located 10 km east of the city of Mafraq and first opened on July 28, 2012, the camp is a three-square-mile piece of land in the desolate Jordanian desert; it was initially designed to host a maximum of 60,000 inhabitants and is jointly administered by the Jordanian government and the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). The camp, which has fluctuated in population to as high as 250,000, is now the 4th largest ‘city’ in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan.

As the international community continues to experience variations of “Syria fatigue,” the residents of Zaatari show a resilience and determination of a far higher caliber.

In April 2016, I spent several weeks in the Zaatari camp followed by time in outlying, unofficial "tent camps" and then later in Iraq working with and photographing IDPs (internally displaced persons).

This series is a collection of images and stories of those who I had the privilege to meet, photograph and in many occasions get to know. I have also included a selection of photos that are intended to contextualize the conditions of Zaatari — a walled, tent camp — turned small city — that tens of thousands call home. 

* December 2017 update: According to the UNHCR, The Zaatari Camp is still home to 79,987 persons. Their future remains uncertain. 

 

 04.04.2016 The wall that surrounds the Zaatari camp  With the conflict in Syria now in its fifth year, those who call Zaatari home represent a fraction of the total number of Syrians who have fled their country, a figure that currently stands at more than 2.5 million.  The statistics are staggering, the sheer scale of the humanitarian crisis difficult, if not impossible, to grasp – even as I stood amongst and spoke with countless refugees, listening to their stories of conflict and violence — I struggled to fully appreciate the scale of displacement and hardship that has become “normal life” for millions.  By the end of my time spent in the Zaatari camp I had only begun to understand the complexities, the anomalies and the truths that are Zaatari— a place that to me helps to characterize the harsh reality of the indiscriminate nature of war, and its effects on innocent civilians.
       
     

04.04.2016
The wall that surrounds the Zaatari camp

With the conflict in Syria now in its fifth year, those who call Zaatari home represent a fraction of the total number of Syrians who have fled their country, a figure that currently stands at more than 2.5 million.

The statistics are staggering, the sheer scale of the humanitarian crisis difficult, if not impossible, to grasp – even as I stood amongst and spoke with countless refugees, listening to their stories of conflict and violence — I struggled to fully appreciate the scale of displacement and hardship that has become “normal life” for millions.

By the end of my time spent in the Zaatari camp I had only begun to understand the complexities, the anomalies and the truths that are Zaatari— a place that to me helps to characterize the harsh reality of the indiscriminate nature of war, and its effects on innocent civilians.

 04.05.2016 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp  Al Samara, age 15, of Al-Sawra, Syria. Al Samara, his sister, three brothers, mother and father fled Syria nearly 4 years ago and have been living in Zaatari ever since.
       
     

04.05.2016
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp

Al Samara, age 15, of Al-Sawra, Syria. Al Samara, his sister, three brothers, mother and father fled Syria nearly 4 years ago and have been living in Zaatari ever since.

 Zeinah, age 4, originally of Damascus, Syria Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.05.2016  Since the Syrian conflict erupted over six years ago approximately half of the country's pre-war population of 22 million has been killed or forced to flee their homes. More than 3 million individuals have sought refuge in neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Jordan. Approximately 650,000 Syrians are currently in Jordan and 100,000 of those call Zaatari home. The remaining 85%, and great majority, are struggling to survive in what are widely know as "random camps" many of which are scattered throughout towns, villages and barren land. Like those in Zaatari, they have no legal right to work and little access to education, healthcare, water, electricity or social services.  While much of the world has grown tired of hearing about the Syrian crisis it does not change the fact that conflict and violence in Syria has unleashed one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history, uprooting over 11 million people.   Like Zeinah, pictured here, approximately 3.7 million Syrian children – 1 in 3 of all Syrian children – has been born since the conflict began five years ago, their lives shaped by violence, fear and displacement. According to UNICEF, this figure includes more than 151,000 children born as refugees since 2011.  Estimates assert that some 8.4 million children – more than 80 percent of Syria’s child population – are now affected by the conflict, either inside the country or as refugees in neighboring countries.  As fighting continues, and as the displaced are neither wholly welcomed abroad nor able to return home the future of millions remains an uncertain one.    
       
     

Zeinah, age 4, originally of Damascus, Syria
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.05.2016

Since the Syrian conflict erupted over six years ago approximately half of the country's pre-war population of 22 million has been killed or forced to flee their homes. More than 3 million individuals have sought refuge in neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Jordan. Approximately 650,000 Syrians are currently in Jordan and 100,000 of those call Zaatari home. The remaining 85%, and great majority, are struggling to survive in what are widely know as "random camps" many of which are scattered throughout towns, villages and barren land. Like those in Zaatari, they have no legal right to work and little access to education, healthcare, water, electricity or social services.

While much of the world has grown tired of hearing about the Syrian crisis it does not change the fact that conflict and violence in Syria has unleashed one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history, uprooting over 11 million people. 

Like Zeinah, pictured here, approximately 3.7 million Syrian children – 1 in 3 of all Syrian children – has been born since the conflict began five years ago, their lives shaped by violence, fear and displacement. According to UNICEF, this figure includes more than 151,000 children born as refugees since 2011.

Estimates assert that some 8.4 million children – more than 80 percent of Syria’s child population – are now affected by the conflict, either inside the country or as refugees in neighboring countries.

As fighting continues, and as the displaced are neither wholly welcomed abroad nor able to return home the future of millions remains an uncertain one. 

 

 Children return to their caravans following school lessons Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016  According to the latest reports provide by the UNHCR 55% of the inhabitants of the Zaatari camp are under the age of 18, making the provision of basic education challenging, at best. There are currently several schools operating in the camp, all on a double shift basis, with girls studying in the mornings and boys in the afternoons, regular attendance is markedly low.   Of those in Zaatari, only about 15,000 of an estimated 28,000 school age children are currently enrolled while an estimated 13% of children in Zaatari are engaged in child labor. Of the larger Syrian refugee population of children, it is estimated that, for a myriad of reasons, over 3 million are not attending school.   The United  Nations children’s agency asserts that the war has reversed 10 years of progress in education for Syrian children.
       
     

Children return to their caravans following school lessons
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016

According to the latest reports provide by the UNHCR 55% of the inhabitants of the Zaatari camp are under the age of 18, making the provision of basic education challenging, at best. There are currently several schools operating in the camp, all on a double shift basis, with girls studying in the mornings and boys in the afternoons, regular attendance is markedly low. 

Of those in Zaatari, only about 15,000 of an estimated 28,000 school age children are currently enrolled while an estimated 13% of children in Zaatari are engaged in child labor. Of the larger Syrian refugee population of children, it is estimated that, for a myriad of reasons, over 3 million are not attending school. 

The United  Nations children’s agency asserts that the war has reversed 10 years of progress in education for Syrian children.

 Samara, age 11, originally of Homs, Syria Inside the Zaatari Refugee camp. 04.05.2016  War in Syria has caused death, destruction and displacement on a horrific scale. Families have been forced from their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed as a result of relentless violence and the disruption of basic services. More than 4 million people have already fled the country and 6.5 million people are internally displaced. An estimated 13.5 million people are in need of urgent life-saving assistance inside of the country — of which 6 million are children.  Children are particularly vulnerable to child rights violations such as recruitment into armed groups and exploitation and abuse, including forced early marriage and child labor.  Access to education, health care, water, sanitation and social services remains inadequate — even when inside established camps such as Zaatari.     For many humanitarian organizations, the impact of the crisis on a generation of children is a primary and growing concern. While most will survive the conflict physically, the immediate and long-term well-being of children remains as uncertain as the future for this entire generation of kids.
       
     

Samara, age 11, originally of Homs, Syria
Inside the Zaatari Refugee camp. 04.05.2016

War in Syria has caused death, destruction and displacement on a horrific scale. Families have been forced from their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed as a result of relentless violence and the disruption of basic services. More than 4 million people have already fled the country and 6.5 million people are internally displaced. An estimated 13.5 million people are in need of urgent life-saving assistance inside of the country — of which 6 million are children.

Children are particularly vulnerable to child rights violations such as recruitment into armed groups and exploitation and abuse, including forced early marriage and child labor.  Access to education, health care, water, sanitation and social services remains inadequate — even when inside established camps such as Zaatari. 
 

For many humanitarian organizations, the impact of the crisis on a generation of children is a primary and growing concern. While most will survive the conflict physically, the immediate and long-term well-being of children remains as uncertain as the future for this entire generation of kids.

 Noor prepares a meal as her children play.  Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.21.2016  
       
     

Noor prepares a meal as her children play. 
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.21.2016
 

 Zaatari. 4.11.2016 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp  Rehabilitation through sport has been an ongoing effort since the Zaatari camp first opened in July of 2012.   The majority of Syrians arrive to Zaatari having experienced some degree of trauma— whether having either witnessed or experienced torture, death and destruction and having had to make the the risky, often lengthy journey to Jordan.   Sport provides an outlet and an opportunity to form new friendships in what is an otherwise chaotic, challenging and uncertain environment.
       
     

Zaatari. 4.11.2016
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp

Rehabilitation through sport has been an ongoing effort since the Zaatari camp first opened in July of 2012. 

The majority of Syrians arrive to Zaatari having experienced some degree of trauma— whether having either witnessed or experienced torture, death and destruction and having had to make the the risky, often lengthy journey to Jordan. 

Sport provides an outlet and an opportunity to form new friendships in what is an otherwise chaotic, challenging and uncertain environment.

 Daily Life Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016  
       
     

Daily Life
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
 

 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     

Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016

 Daily life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.11.2016  One can witness an incredible demonstration of resourcefulness and resilience when observing daily life in the Zaatari Refugee camp.   Perhaps the most obvious example of this strength of spirit is the vibrant main drag that runs through the camp. Since opening in the summer of 2012 Zaatari has established and seen flourish an informal and largely underground economy. The camp features a main road entitled Champs-Elysees (a play on the Parisian shopping destination, this market is the thriving core of what is now Jordan’s fourth-largest population center) where one can get a haircut, shop in a produce market, rent a wedding gown or buy ice cream.  While markets such as the Champs-Elysees are not the most common sight in refugee camps, exiled populations throughout the world have long demonstrated tremendous resourcefulness and are never completely dependent on humanitarian assistance.  Wiile it is absolutely true that those in Zaatari are doing everything that they can to make the best of a very difficult situation, we should be very hesitant to call Zaatari a “city” or refer to what those in the camp have been able to do as anything that resembles “normalcy”.   It is not nor will it ever be normal to live behind a barbed wire fence, in a tent or a caravan, and to be deprived of the freedom of movement.  It is not normal, nor will it ever be, to live in a situation where an entire population lacks the rights and entitlements of citizens.   And it is certainly not normal to wake up each day not knowing when or even if you will ever be able to return to the place that you consider to be your home
       
     

Daily life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp
04.11.2016

One can witness an incredible demonstration of resourcefulness and resilience when observing daily life in the Zaatari Refugee camp. 

Perhaps the most obvious example of this strength of spirit is the vibrant main drag that runs through the camp. Since opening in the summer of 2012 Zaatari has established and seen flourish an informal and largely underground economy. The camp features a main road entitled Champs-Elysees (a play on the Parisian shopping destination, this market is the thriving core of what is now Jordan’s fourth-largest population center) where one can get a haircut, shop in a produce market, rent a wedding gown or buy ice cream.

While markets such as the Champs-Elysees are not the most common sight in refugee camps, exiled populations throughout the world have long demonstrated tremendous resourcefulness and are never completely dependent on humanitarian assistance.

Wiile it is absolutely true that those in Zaatari are doing everything that they can to make the best of a very difficult situation, we should be very hesitant to call Zaatari a “city” or refer to what those in the camp have been able to do as anything that resembles “normalcy”. 

It is not nor will it ever be normal to live behind a barbed wire fence, in a tent or a caravan, and to be deprived of the freedom of movement.

It is not normal, nor will it ever be, to live in a situation where an entire population lacks the rights and entitlements of citizens. 

And it is certainly not normal to wake up each day not knowing when or even if you will ever be able to return to the place that you consider to be your home

 04.16.2016 Daily Life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp
       
     

04.16.2016
Daily Life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp

 04.11.2016 Daily Life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp
       
     

04.11.2016
Daily Life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp

 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.18.2016  With many of those in the camp calling Zaatari home for months, if not years, a largely underground, informal economy has sprung up. Many Syrians have opened shops reminiscent of their trade or industry back home or embarked on an entirely new, entrepreneurial path.   During my time in Zaatari i saw everything from coffeeshops, food stands and barbershops to wedding gown rental boutiques, cell phone repair tents and bicycle shops.   It is estimated that there are over 3,000 refugee-operated shops and businesses within the permitters of the Zaatari camp.    
       
     

Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.18.2016

With many of those in the camp calling Zaatari home for months, if not years, a largely underground, informal economy has sprung up. Many Syrians have opened shops reminiscent of their trade or industry back home or embarked on an entirely new, entrepreneurial path. 

During my time in Zaatari i saw everything from coffeeshops, food stands and barbershops to wedding gown rental boutiques, cell phone repair tents and bicycle shops. 

It is estimated that there are over 3,000 refugee-operated shops and businesses within the permitters of the Zaatari camp. 

 

 04.05.2016 Daily life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp
       
     

04.05.2016
Daily life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp

 04.14.2016 Daily Life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp
       
     

04.14.2016
Daily Life in the Zaatari Refugee Camp

 Amal, age 11, originally of Daraa, Syria Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.11.2016
       
     

Amal, age 11, originally of Daraa, Syria
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.11.2016

 Fatmah, age 6, is one of thousands of children who currently call the Zaatari Refugee Camp home. According to a UNHCR report the population of Zaatari hovers right around 80,000 with over half of that number being children and 20% under the age of 5. Fatmah came to the camp with her family in late 2013 -- she enjoys bike rides and playing with some of the other children in the camp.   Each day that I spent in the Zaatari camp was a gift. I felt that then and i feel the same now, as i write this caption. I was permitted to bear witness to the incredible resilience and beauty of the Syrian people where each individual had a story of unimaginable hardship and many children, like the young girl pictured, have never known peace or normalcy. In spite of this, each person that I  met left me in awe and admiration of their resilience, their conscious decision to see the beauty in each day and their ability to cling to a hope for a better future … a future of peace.   
       
     

Fatmah, age 6, is one of thousands of children who currently call the Zaatari Refugee Camp home. According to a UNHCR report the population of Zaatari hovers right around 80,000 with over half of that number being children and 20% under the age of 5. Fatmah came to the camp with her family in late 2013 -- she enjoys bike rides and playing with some of the other children in the camp. 

Each day that I spent in the Zaatari camp was a gift. I felt that then and i feel the same now, as i write this caption. I was permitted to bear witness to the incredible resilience and beauty of the Syrian people where each individual had a story of unimaginable hardship and many children, like the young girl pictured, have never known peace or normalcy. In spite of this, each person that I  met left me in awe and admiration of their resilience, their conscious decision to see the beauty in each day and their ability to cling to a hope for a better future … a future of peace.

 

 Maya, age 7, from Daraa, Syria stands outside of her “home” — a metal caravan where she lives with her mother and siblings. Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.11.2016  Maya has been in the Zaatari refugee camp for nearly two years after she, her mother and siblings fled conflict and bombings in Syria. When she first arrived at Zaatari Maya was able to attend a makeshift school that had been set up in the camp — she and her sister attended for three hours in the morning and her brothers attended for three hours in the afternoon.   Since then, things have changed. Maya and her siblings are no longer in school. Her brothers work odd jobs in the camp and Maya and her sister stay home to help their mother.  In the Zaatari camp, and across the region, boys are dropping out of school so that they can take jobs to earn money for their families while young girls are having their educations cut short so they can be married off at younger and younger ages — too often in an effort to reduce the number of mouths a family has to feed. Begging Syrian children – both during school hours and late into the night – are now common sights on streets throughout the region.   As the crisis in Syria crosses the six year mark, and the headlines focus on military clashes and political efforts to resolve the crisis, the world must not forget the human realities at stake.
       
     

Maya, age 7, from Daraa, Syria stands outside of her “home” — a metal caravan where she lives with her mother and siblings.
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.11.2016

Maya has been in the Zaatari refugee camp for nearly two years after she, her mother and siblings fled conflict and bombings in Syria. When she first arrived at Zaatari Maya was able to attend a makeshift school that had been set up in the camp — she and her sister attended for three hours in the morning and her brothers attended for three hours in the afternoon. 

Since then, things have changed. Maya and her siblings are no longer in school. Her brothers work odd jobs in the camp and Maya and her sister stay home to help their mother.

In the Zaatari camp, and across the region, boys are dropping out of school so that they can take jobs to earn money for their families while young girls are having their educations cut short so they can be married off at younger and younger ages — too often in an effort to reduce the number of mouths a family has to feed. Begging Syrian children – both during school hours and late into the night – are now common sights on streets throughout the region. 

As the crisis in Syria crosses the six year mark, and the headlines focus on military clashes and political efforts to resolve the crisis, the world must not forget the human realities at stake.

 Syrians use buckets to collect water at a water distribution tank. Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.12.2016  Located in the middle of the Jordanian desert, in a country whose greatest environmental concern is water scarcity, providing water to those living in the Zaatari camp has been an enormous, ongoing struggle.  When Zaatari first opened in July 2012 all water was trucked into the camp — well over 1 million liters carried in 80 tanker trucks each day. Today, water in Zaatari comes from 450m deep borewells dug, purified and delivered by UNICEF and partners. with new cash-for-work programs being tried out in the camp, much of the water is distributed by trucks driven by refugee volunteers. This distribution network, initiated in April 2015, is intended to drastically reduce operational costs, ensure equitable distribution of water to all families and help protect the environment.
       
     

Syrians use buckets to collect water at a water distribution tank.
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.12.2016

Located in the middle of the Jordanian desert, in a country whose greatest environmental concern is water scarcity, providing water to those living in the Zaatari camp has been an enormous, ongoing struggle.

When Zaatari first opened in July 2012 all water was trucked into the camp — well over 1 million liters carried in 80 tanker trucks each day. Today, water in Zaatari comes from 450m deep borewells dug, purified and delivered by UNICEF and partners. with new cash-for-work programs being tried out in the camp, much of the water is distributed by trucks driven by refugee volunteers. This distribution network, initiated in April 2015, is intended to drastically reduce operational costs, ensure equitable distribution of water to all families and help protect the environment.

 A father and daughter wait to be seen by doctors at a Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) clinic.  Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016
       
     

A father and daughter wait to be seen by doctors at a Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) clinic. 
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016

 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016
       
     

Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016

 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.14.2016
       
     

Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp
04.14.2016

 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     

Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp
04.16.2016

 A wedding gown shop provides rental dresses to those who get married while living in the camp.  Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.17.2016
       
     

A wedding gown shop provides rental dresses to those who get married while living in the camp. 
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.17.2016

 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.12.2016
       
     

Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.12.2016

 Daily Life Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.15.2016
       
     

Daily Life
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.15.2016

 The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) utilized this facility to provide several weeks of care to those living in the camp; the building is one of several medical centers within the Zaatari Refugee Camp.  Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) utilized this facility to provide several weeks of care to those living in the camp; the building is one of several medical centers within the Zaatari Refugee Camp.

Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016

 Syrians crouch at the fenceline that separates the Zaatari camp from the rest of Jordan; they are attempting to pick up cell phone service.   Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.17.2016
       
     

Syrians crouch at the fenceline that separates the Zaatari camp from the rest of Jordan; they are attempting to pick up cell phone service. 

Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.17.2016

 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     

Zaatari Art
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016

 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     

Zaatari Art
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016

 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016
       
     

Zaatari Art
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016

 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     

Zaatari Art
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016

 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.15.2016
       
     

Zaatari Art
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.15.2016

 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     

Zaatari Art
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016

 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016
       
     

Zaatari Art
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.16.2016

 Zaatari Art Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016
       
     

Zaatari Art
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.19.2016

 Daily Life Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.12.2016
       
     

Daily Life
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.12.2016

 Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.12.2016
       
     

Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp
04.12.2016

 Displaced.  Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 4.18.2016
       
     

Displaced. 
Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 4.18.2016