The Untold Story
Jordan, a Country based in the middle of the middle east with very limited resources has become the main shelter for Syrian refugees.
Thousand of Syrian Refugees come to Jordan on daily basis. As known to many Turkey has closed their borders while lebanon has a complicated political situation with Syria so Jordan with its hospitable and safe environment became the most favored place for Syrians escaping the dangers of civil war.
Latest studies show that there will be one Syrian for every 6 Jordanian by the end of this year in Jordan.
Many Syrians are based in two refugee camps in the north of Jordan. The biggest is called
Zatari camp, this camp now has around 120000 thousand refugees. It has become the 4th bigger Jordanian city in terms of population
This has become a major issue and a major threat to Jordan and Jordanians. The United Nations and some of Jordan’s friends have helped Jordan with these camps. Although the support is much less than what is required, the government and the UN are working hard to manage this new city that was nonexistent two years ago.
What is not well publicized is that 70% of the refugees are living within the Jordanian community and not refugee camps. This is causing a lot of discontent among Jordanians as many Syrians have been getting their jobs for less salaries. In a country with a high unemployment rate that is just starting to recover from the deleterious effects of the Arab spring that has swept all around it, many of the scarce jobs that were available in Jordan are now out of reach for Jordanians. The government is being asked to be more restrictive regarding this issue but as the US people know only too well, this is very hard to control.
Jordan has limited natural resources yet it is known regionally for its people’s hospitality and has never closed its borders in the face of our neighbors from Palestine, Iraq or Syria yet with the unending Syrian war and the unending influx of refugees across the northern border, Jordan has reached a critical level whereby closing the borders will soon become a national requirement for Jordan’s survival unless proper financial support for the US, Europe and Gulf countries is forthcoming.
To explain the urgency of the current situation, let me share with you a couple of examples of the results of sharing the Jordanian public resources with the Syrian refugees:
In the northern city of Mafraq, the population had risen from 90,000 to 200,000 within few months. A hospital in Mafraq has 16 beds in its ICU and 12 of them were occupied by Syrians. Hospital intakes has risen from 300 to 10000. Many Jordanians are complaining of shortage of medicine to a level never reached before.
Schools have also doubled their class sizes and are doing two shifts per day to adapt for the increase in population which has obviously affected the quality of education of both Jordanian and Syrian students.
For a country that prides itself with being the 5th medical tourism country in the world and first in the Arab world and for having the best education system in the region, this is striking home in the heart of every Jordanian.
As a Jordanian, I would like to ask everyone who can help to not leave Jordan alone in these hard times. Lack of water, sanitation and waste removal, sharp increases of prices of essential foods and housing rent are affecting many low and middle-income Jordanians who are quickly losing their hospitality virtue.
Supporting Syrians should not be with words alone. We expect our friends to be more responsible and start putting their money where their mouth is. Jordan has been a close ally to the West and a shelter to all Arabs in troubled times and has never closed its borders in the face of human tragedy, so let us not suffer and pay a heavy price for taking the moral stand of supporting our neighbors in their times of need.
Deema Alam Farraj