“At the beginning, there were only tents. Conditions were relatively bad, but acceptable because we only looked for safety,” said Syrian refugee Anwar from Daraa. He was one of the first refugees to enter Zaatari camp. “We struggled at the beginning. We used to have shared washrooms. Water lacked sometimes. We had no electricity. The shops weren’t there”.
The camp was meant as a temporary solution to host refugees who would soon go back to their homes in Syria. The Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) was one of the first agencies to work in Zaatari. Today we provide shelter, distribution of essential items, informal education for children and vocational training for youth.
“Now the camp is completely different. There are many more facilities and services. There are no more tents, everyone is living in prefabs. We feel more at home now.” Today Anwar teaches carpentry, blacksmithing and painting in one of NRC´s youth centre inside Zaatari camp.
Over the last five years, NRC has trained more than 7,500 Syrians in new vocational skills in Zaatari. In Zaatari camp, NRC has hosted more than 6,000 children in its education centres.
“(…) they can earn an income and pay for themselves so they don’t become a burden for others. (…) Vocational skills provide a safety net in one’s life,” Anwar said.
In Zaatari camp, NRC is UNHCR's lead shelter and distribution partner. So far, we have provided maintenance to 24,000 caravans.
This fifth anniversary illustrates the protracted nature of the Syrian refugee crisis. Many Syrian children were born in this camp and have never seen what lies beyond it. Prosperous countries should share the responsibility of hosting Syrian refugees by increasing resettlement pledges and other forms of legal admissions including family reunification.