A cold night in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Photo: Hussein Amri/NRC

A look into Zaatari camp during winter

John Cutliffe and Dara Masri|Published 08. Feb 2016
Mohammad, a Syrian refugee, resident in Zaatari camp in Jordan, sells hot beans on a cart in the main market street as the first winter rain begins to fall.

“Tonight there will be snow,” the 22-year-old says, as he pulls the hood of his new coat over his head. Weather forecasts last week predicted snowfall in different areas in Jordan. Syrian refugees living in camps brace themselves for another cold winter.

The green coat is one of the winter items donated by the Saudi government to the residents of the camp, in preparation for the wintry season. In cooperation with the UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council's replenishment compound distributed a set of winter clothes to more than 79,000 Syrians living in Zaatari, as part of our winter campaign.

As temperatures reach a low of two degrees at night, two Syrians huddle around a fire they made outside their white shelter. "We make room for the rest of the family when we sit out here," says Omar, a father of two. He moves the coal in the fire, using a stick, while his friend warms his hands above it.

In addition to distributing winter clothes and gas cylinders for heaters, NRC and UNHCR handed out cash for residents, to weatherproof their caravans and  prepare for the cold nights.

Mohammad selling hot beans in the main street of Zaatari camp. Photo: Hussein Amri/NRC

Champs Elysees, as the long market street in the camp has been nicknamed, is usually teeming with people. However, there are few people buying beans from Mohammad's cart or stopping for Shawarma at the local shops in this weather.

Rain makes conditions challenging as people prepare for the cold weather. Workers from other agencies in the camp clear flooded areas near shelters, to ease the movement of refugees and allow services to access the beneficiaries. NRC maintenance teams remain on standby to support emergency responses.

A cold night in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Photo: Hussein Amri/NRC

NRC continues distributing vouchers, cash and wintry-items to all the residents in the camp, to alleviate some of the hardships caused by the weather. However, even with this level of preparedness, the refugees remain vulnerable to cold, wet and muddy conditions.