ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP: Syrian refugees in Jordan say they are so miserable that they would rather face “inevitable death” in their war-torn country than live in conditions that have sparked riots.
With Syria’s war now in its fourth year, many of the 100,000 refugees in the sprawling desert Zaatari camp in northern Jordan feel the world has forgotten their struggle to survive.
“Syrian refugees would rather go home and face inevitable death than swallow the bitterness of displacement,” Abu Isam, 52, said before his cousins and other refugees boarded a bus back to Syria.
“Nobody cares about Syrian refugees — the world has fooled us. They said our crisis will not last long. Now I feel a solution to our dilemma is impossible,” he said.
Rioting and protests over poor living conditions have erupted periodically since Zaatari, near the border with Syria, opened two years ago.
Early this month rioting killed one refugee and wounded dozens, mostly policemen. It was the first time a refugee has been killed.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR and Jordanian authorities said the rioting was over the detention of a refugee family and a driver who tried to smuggle them out.
“People are fed up with conditions at the camp. Many people are going home despite the destruction and war,” said Hasan Zubi, adding that his wife and children had recently returned to Syria because of “inhuman conditions” at Zaatari. Zubi, 68, and other refugees said the riots erupted after police prevented three Syrian women from leaving the densely populated, 7-square-kilometre camp without permission.
“One of them started shouting and calling for help, claiming a policeman attacked her and the rioting started. We sought refuge in this country and we need to respect it and respect its laws,” added the former bus driver from Daraa. Around 100 refugees leave Zaatari daily to go back to Syria, and more than 100,000 have returned since the conflict in their country began in 2011, government figures show. But every day some 500 Syrians also seek refuge in Jordan, which now houses more than 500,000 refugees — 80 percent of them in urban areas. AFP