Jordan [Syrian refugees]

First impression of Zaatari refugee camp


It has been one year and eight months since JEN started operation in Zaatari camp in September 2012. My first visit to Zaatari was in January 2013. At that time, Zaatari was still on the path to expansion. Passing through a densely tent area, there was a stretch of land with empty caravans which are ready for new arrivals. In some areas, facilities had been under construction. Chaos was my impression. Since then, I have seldom been there, so my image of Zaatari hasn’t updated.

[Za’atari refugee camp in the beginning of 2013]
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Now, one year and eight months later, Zaatari camp gives different impression.

Staff engaging in host community program and staff in Admin section visited Zaatari camp for the first time in order to understand JEN overall activities. Field staffs go to Zaatari every day. Even though they have heard and spoke about Zaatari almost every day, it is not easy for them to really understand Zaatari.

Zaatari was very different from what they imagined. It is a “town”. Not all, but most of goods can be purchased there. There are jewelry stores as well as wedding dress shops. They were impressed by peoples’ toughness that have adapted to the situation.

[Current Zaatari camp]
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From Emergency settlement to ordinary life, Zaatari is in transition. No one can describe Zaatari in one year time. But to ensure safety and favorable living environment, JEN is working on what we can do and what we should do now.

Miki Hirose (Program Officer)

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.

Azraq refugee camp is about to open!


For more than a year now the preparation of a second large refugee camp in Jordan has been ongoing in Azraq.

Located on a 27km2 area Azraq camp will be much bigger than Za’atari (and its 8km2) allowing more space for each families. While Za’atari looks like a dense town, Azraq will look much more like a collection of several small villages.

[Crowded main street in Zaatari]
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The small town of Azraq already did host a refugee camp for Iraqis in the past and is not located on the border with Syria. Nevertheless Syrian refugees will still be registered in Raba Sahan like now and will be transferred for most to Azraq. Only the new arrivals having close family already in Za’atari or special cases such as severely injured refugees will be sent to Za’atari.

This new camp will so help Za’atari camp to enter in a new phase with a population much more stable, helping UN agencies, INGOs and refugees themselves to leave the constant emergency mode on which the camp lives for 2 years and enter in a mode in which consolidation and improvement of all the programs developed will be the main priority.

A more stable population should especially contribute to stabilize and re-enforce the different committees of refugees in charge of leading the population on the path of self-management and eventually self-reliance.

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.

Security Incident in Za’atari Refugee Camp


Established in July 2012, Za’atari Refugee Camp will soon enter its third year of operation.  Though the security situation in the camp was volatile during the first year, close collaboration with the Jordanian police, strong camp management, and sufficient services offered by various agencies and organizations have fostered a sense of stability in the camp and the camp had not seen any major security incident in several months.

[Everyday lives at Za’atari refugee camp in April 2014]
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On Saturday, 5 April, however, an incident broke out in two districts of Za’atari refugee camp, which began from a dispute between the camp police and refugees living in the district.  The incident quickly escalated and attracted more than 3,000 refugees living in the neighboring areas to join the riot.  A few tents and caravans were burned during the riot and many people, including close to 25 police officers, were injured and one refugee died.  Causes of the riot are still under investigation.

[Pictures of smoke in the camp]
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As soon as the fight broke out, all staff working for international NGOs were reallocated to a safe space to ensure security.  Since the fight broke out at night, JEN only had 2 staff working the night shift in distribution.  Though the incident lasted one night and was limited to a few districts in the camp, all camp staff and managers were instructed to remain outside of the camp the following day to ensure safety.  By Sunday afternoon, JEN was able to mobilize 2 distribution staff to begin clothes distribution in the camp, as the bus carrying new refugees was scheduled to arrive to the camp.

The incident was limited to two newer established districts of the camp, where the majority of residents are recent arrivals to the camp and the services provided are not as comprehensive as the older parts of the camp – a reminder that everyday frustration has the potential to cause security incidents.

In a refugee camp that spans over 6 square kilometers accommodating over 100,000 refugees, differences in the availability and quality of services based on districts is unfortunate, but inevitable.  To ensure services offered match the needs of the community, JEN employs community mobilizers who regularly work with refugees to conduct hearings related to issues and needs in the community, as well as to respond to questions.

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.

What day is it on 22nd March?


22nd  of March is the World Water day, which was decided by the UN General Assembly in 1992. This day is a good opportunity to think about the importance of water, water consumption and hygiene.
Water shortage is also a chronic issue in Jordan, as the country is known to be the fourth water poorest country. Water shortage is especially problematic this year because of the unprecedented low precipitation during the rainy season in the winter.
In Jordan, water is usually supplied through water tanks placed on rooftops of each schools and homes, which is filled by public water delivery several times a week. If we leave the tap open, water runs out very quickly! Water is the most important and the scarcest resource here.
JEN’s work in host community in Jordan is divided into two parts; renovation of water-related facilities and hygiene promotion in public schools. As a part of hygiene promotion, not only the waterborne disease prevention but also water saving are addressed.
On 20th of March, UNICEF and JEN held the World Water day joint event at the school where JEN had renovated water related facilities.

[Water is Life]
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Through the students role playing, sing a song and dancing, all guests, students and teachers had a great time to think about the importance of water.

[ A drop of water is leading the dance]
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[ Students wore ‘drop of water’, ‘hand’ and ‘soap’ costumes]
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JEN’s hygiene promoters conduct hygiene promotion activities by going around the schools and training teachers through the training-of-trainers (TOT) model using their knowledge and method. So far, teachers have been trained at 142 schools and hygiene kits have been distributed in 124 schools. It is really difficult to raise hygiene awareness and make hygiene practice as a habit. Trained teachers are able to teach students about hygiene practice, such as washing hands and brushing teeth, to students every day and repeatedly. Both Syrian and Jordanian students can be benefit by these sessions led by trained teachers.

Using the TOT model allows JEN to provide sustainable hygiene education that not only focuses on this generation, but also benefits the next generation so that they continue to carry on the education without JEN’s direct participation.

[ Hygiene Promotion Team ]
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World water day is not familiar in Japan. But it is also an important part of our work to raise awareness about the importance of water and remind the Japanese people that there are a lot of children who are still suffering from insufficient and unsafe water.

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.

Welcoming new arrivals in Za’atari refugee camp with warm clothes


March 15, 2014 marks the three-year commemoration of the beginning of the Syrian crisis.  Three years later, the number of refugees in Jordan, currently at 585,000, continues to grow and new refugees arrive at Za’atari Refugee Camp every day.

In order to respond to the needs of the refugees arriving to Za’atari, JEN has started distributing clothes to the new arrivals in the reception area of the camp.
After passing the border, the Syrian refugees are registered in UNHCR and then arrive by bus in the middle of the night in Za’atari. There, they receive food provided by WFP and Save the children, blankets by UNHCR and since Monday 10th of March 2014, JEN is distributing to each newly arrived family a bag filled with UNIQLO clothes.

[JEN distribution caravan in Za'atari reception area]
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In previous distributions, family bags are personalized depending on the family size and structure following assessments to each family living in the camp. Contrary to past distributions, however, assessments cannot be carried out for new refugees and the personalization of the family bags has to be done on site. To do so, JEN distribution caravan is opened 24/7 and 7 distribution staffs work on day and night shifts to ensure efficient distributions and replenishments.

[JEN staff preparing clothes on site according to family size and structure]
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On the first three days of distribution, JEN has assisted more than 800 individuals who were very glad to receive warm clothes in the middle of the night.

This distribution would not go as smoothly without the hard work of the warehouse team who sort and repack the donated clothes into neat sets. The role of this team is vital to the distribution but even so it tends to be overlooked. So JEN Amman Office is taking the opportunity to put the light on them! The team has already prepared 40,000 individual sets since the beginning of January 2014!

[The warehouse team]
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The number of refugees arriving in Za’atari camp varies every day, however, JEN team is ready to welcome them with warm clothes to the Syrian refugees cope with the first cold night in the camp.

Emmeline Guerin
Program Officer


【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.