Life for Syrian Refugees, at $500K a Day

The Zaatari camp isn't bad, but Jordan grumbles about the cost
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2013 7:04 PM CST
Inside the Syrian Refugee Camp That Costs $500K a Day
This Thursday, July 18, 2013 aerial view photo, shows the Zaatari refugee camp near the Jordanian city of Mafraq, some 5 miles from the Jordanian-Syrian border.   (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool, File)

(Newser) – Nicknamed the Champs-Elysées, this line of shops offers everything from vegetables to slabs of meat to footwear and clothing. Only, the shops are all tents in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, where 100,000 people—half of them under 18—live in exile and face pressure to go back home, the Guardian reports. With 300 tankers shipping in water every day, and residents tapped into the electricity grid, the Zaatari refugee camp costs about $500,000 a day to run—and Jordanians are starting to grumble. "There is a lack of water, more rubbish, there are pressures on the electricity supply and the health system, our classrooms are overcrowded," said a politician about the strain on the area.

What's more, the half million Syrian refugees spreading across the country and the region are accused of taking people's jobs and causing low-end rents to rise. But NGOs see a different problem: a "lost generation" of scarred children who could plague the region for years if funding falls off. "If we focus on their problems now, we may avoid decades of impairment," said a British official. And while the Zaatari camp appears well-run, the Syrians insist they don't want to stay. "Of course I want to go back," said a 23-year-old rebel fighter who lost a leg to a bomb. "I want to go back to my family and to the Free Syrian Army." (Read more refugee camp stories.)

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