Scenes of Forced Migration: Syrian Refugees in Jordan

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  • A "temporary" settlement that is home to an extended Syrian family in Mafraq governorate. (Credit: Lucas de Abreu, October 2014)
  • Inside of the family's home. (Credit: Lucas de Abreu, October 2014)
  • A boy stands with one of his favorite toys. (Credit: Lucas de Abreu, October 2014)
  • The family's kitchen. (Credit: Zenobia Azeem, October 2014)
  • Some of the members of the extended family living in the settlement. (Credit: Lucas de Abreu, October 2014)
  • Entrance to UNHCR's office in Za'atari refugee camp for Syrians in Mafraq. (Credit: Lucas de Abreu, October 2014)
  • Laundry hanging to dry.  (Credit: Zenobia Azeem, October 2014)
  • Although it is against UNHCR regulations, many Syrians have opened their own businesses inside of Za'atari camp on what is known as the "Champs-Élysées." (Credit: Lucas de Abreu, October 2014)
  • Video gaming business inside of Za'atari. (Credit: Zenobia Azeem, October 2014)
  • Boundary wall outside of Za'atari camp. (Credit: Lucas de Abreu, October 2014)
  • Playground inside Za'atari. (Credit: Lucas de Abreu, October 2014)
  • Fences along part of Za'atari camp. The camp's boundaries have been porous allowing people to leave under the cover of darkness. (Credit: Lucas de Abreu, October 2014)
  • The recently-built Azraq Camp opened in April 2014 heeding the lessons of Za'atari. There has been a concerted effort to impose artificial order in the camp's design instead of allowing it to organically evolve to suit the needs of the community as has happened in Za'atari. (Credit: Lucas de Abreu, October 2014)
  • Pre-fabricated houses in Azraq camp. (Credit: Lucas de Abreu, October 2014)

Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan’s Mafraq govenorate opened in July 2012 to host Syrian refugees fleeing Syria’s ongoing civil war. The camp’s first year was particularly brutal as it was grossly under equipped to provide services for the camp’s constantly increasing number of residents. The camp, which has a capacity of 60,000 people, hit its peak with more than 150,000 residents in March 2013. However, since then, many Syrians have left the camp to settle in host Jordanian communities.

Against the will of the UNHCR, the refugees have altered the camp to be reminiscent of their lives left behind in Syria. They rearranged the pre-fabricated housing initially laid out in clean cut rows into clusters of extended families around a central “courtyard.” Although it is against UNHCR regulation and Jordanian law for refugees to work, entrepreneurs have setup all sorts of shops in what is known as the camp’s Champs-Élysées. A dramatic shift away from the traditional in-kind food assistance of refugee camps, refugees now receive pre-charged debit cards credited from the World Food Program that they can use at the camp’s two main supermarkets, Safeway or Tazweed.