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at Za’atari Camp

Children in the Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees before breakfast time in Ramadan Credit: ©UNHCR/M.Hawari

at Za’atari Camp

See this exclusive video of Farida and Abdul’s journey and UNHCR’s registration work at Za’atari Camp

Meet just one refugee family that your support is helping to register with UNHCR and survive. Your guide is Ihab Shaban, UNHCR Community Services Officer, Za’atari Camp, Jordan.

The first step in helping a refugee family is to register them with UNHCR.

This is so much more than just an administrative process. It’s about telling people they don’t have to run any more, that they are safe and under our protection.

Registration is also about giving people the essentials they need to survive. Each family will receive a warm meal, a welcome kit, with blankets, sleeping mats, cooking utensils and will be allocated the shelter that will be their new home. Refugees often arrive at the camp exhausted, not having eaten properly or drunk enough water for days. So during registration people also have a thorough health check and if they need treatment they’ll get it right away.

We’re especially vigilant for children who may be at risk. We weigh and measure children for signs of malnourishment, and if we find they are severely malnourished they are enrolled on a therapeutic feeding programme. They also receive vaccinations for polio, diphtheria and tetanus and are given an education assessment to see what their needs will be.

When a family is registered with UNHCR they receive a special registration card which will allow them to access the vital services they’ll need after they have registered:

Registering with UNHCR also confers the legal status of refugee on the families we help. This means that host countries must, under international law, grant them certain rights and fulfil certain obligations to them.

Meet one of the families you are helping

Left to right: Abdul, Nada (12), Nisreen (14), Younes (16), Inaam (5), Sihan (10) and Ibrahim (7). Eldest daughter Nora (16) was not present when this photo was taken. Credit: ©UNHCR/S.Rich

Abdul, Farida and their seven children have lived here in Za’atari since February 2013.

Before the civil war they lived in Dara’a, where Abdul and Farida ran a small supermarket from their large family house. Farida also spent a lot of time in the garden, where she grew lemons, cucumbers and tomatoes and with all their children at school, the family was doing well. Then the civil war ripped their lives apart.

After living through deadly bombardments and losing friends and neighbours to the conflict, the family had to flee. They left behind their beautiful home and their business and the children left behind their school friends and everything they knew.

The whole family misses their home badly, but are striving to live a decent life in Za’atari.

Abdul continues his story…

“What should I say? It’s impossible to stay the same after what we’ve seen. I feared for my children. They were all targets, wherever they were. Even schools were not safe anymore. When the bombing happened at her school, my daughter Nada saw her friend blown into pieces. Little children are seen as potential ‘terrorists’ so they get killed. How can I see people I know die in front of me, and not change? It’s impossible. The situation has forever changed. If I go back to my town now, I won’t recognise it.

“Staying in Syria was not an option. If we had stayed we would have been facing death. So we came to Jordan.

“Life in Za’atari is tough, but my children are safe. And we have been here for a long time and conditions are improving. The camp has rescued me and my children. How would we have survived any longer in Syria, when I cannot run or find a safe place to hide?

Facts & Figures

Zaatari was first opened on July 28, 2012 and has grown exponentially ever since

The camp population 80,146, exclusively Syrian refugees

461,701 refugees have passed through the camp

57% are under 24, 19.9% of whom are under 5 years old

Places of origin include Dara’a (79.1%), Homs (2.8%), Damascus (2%) and Aleppo (1.85%)

50% of the population is male, 50% is female

1 in 5 households headed by women

80 – no. of average births per week

Statistics correct as of August 2017


Over 3 million men, women and children have fled from Syria since the conflict began in March 2011. Credit: ©UNHCR/J.Kohler


Second image (12381) They have sought safety in neighbouring countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Credit: ©UNHCR/G.Gubaeva


In 2014 UNHCR facilitated the evacuation of 1,1000 civilians trapped in the besieged Old City of Homs in western Syria during a three-day ‘humanitarian pause’. Credit: ©UNHCR/B.AlHafez


Many families have crossed into Jordan at night time, because it’s safer in the hours of darkness. Credit: ©UNHCR/J.Kohler


Families continue to stream across the border. Credit: ©UNHCR/J.Kohler

Jordan. Winterization of Za'atari camp

A refugee child, newly arrived at Za’atari. With your continued support, we can help refugee families to survive. Credit: ©UNHCR/J.Kohler