Zaatari Refugee camp in Jordan, home to 85,000 Syrians, is the world’s largest camp, and may be on its way to setting an example for the aid community because it’s becoming a city! Well, not a city like New York or London, or even like any smaller one, but a city in the sense it is organizing itself like an urban center. To an outsider it may still look like a slum or a Rio’s favella, but to those living there, there is a sort of address system, a barbershop, a flower shop, a rotisserie take out, a travel agency… some even have washing machines and can buy homemade ice cream. Much of what they have comes from the black market and from smugglers. They do steal electricity, and the UN officials at the camp are thinking of charging a monthly fee, making some low income Jordanians living nearby envious. Of course like any urban environment they have crime. And because it is a refugee camp, residents can each tell horror stories of what they have had to live through before and after they left Syria. There’s another camp, Azraq, located in a desert like area far from anything. The refugees there fight despair, while those living in Zaatari are feeling hope—making the human spirit so evident in the camp all the more striking for shining through the strife.
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