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at Za’atari Camp

The home of Syrian refugee Anas Al Balky, 38 sits on a street in the Za’ateri refugee camp. “Those who are living in Za’ateri we are living in a desert. We want to see water and trees,” explains Anas. Credit ©UNHCR/Shawn Baldwin

at Za’atari Camp

See this exclusive video of UNHCR’s work with Shelter in Za’atari and see Farida and Abdul’s home

You’re helping families make a new home

Shelter is a basic human need and none of us could survive for long without it. That’s why your support, which helps provide refugee families with vital shelter and protection, is so important. In your video Ihab Shaban shows you around the different types of shelter in Za’atari and Abdul and Farida invite you inside their home.

Read what Farida
has to Say

“I don’t want a better life, just the life we had.”

Farida is safe in Za’atari, but misses her home in Syria. ©UNHCR/S.Rich

Here Farida explains how difficult it was to leave her home behind, and how she is building a new life for her family in Za’atari.

“My house in Syria had two bedrooms, a living room and a shop we opened to earn money. The house was a very good size. Outside, we had a small garden where I grew oranges, olives and almonds… the garden was special and the children had the space to play.

“We lived happily. My husband worked, my son worked, and I worked in the garden. We needed nothing and never expected we’d come here or see the things we have seen. We had never thought about coming to Jordan, even for a visit. But here we are. We’ve been treated well, but it’s difficult to live away from home.

“I especially remember Ramadan, when we would have a big celebration in my home with neighbours, family, friends, and children. We cherished each and every day of it and kindness prevailed among people. We would cook lots of different dishes and spread them on the dinner table. It was special. It’s different here. Everyone here is troubled. Everyone has cried. Sadness lies in every heart. Every family has lost one or two of its members. If not, they have lost their homes and become displaced. 

“We lost our home when the army came. They ravaged a big part of my house with a tank then security officials seized the house, set up a checkpoint and settled in it. So we had to get out as there was no place to stay anymore. We left and came here.

“We first thought that we’d stay here for one month only and then come back to live normally. Staying here for another month was out of the question. But here we still are.

“Some of my children have lost hope of returning home. They are safe here, but they lack the joy of life. Back home, they used to play, be happy, sing, and dance.

“I want to return home, to the life we had. Our future lies there. I want my children to grow up in their country; I want to be buried there.”

“Even my youngest child Inaam (5) has become prone to depression. So we bought her a Syrian paradise bird, to remind her of home and that we will one day go back.

Inaam’s paradise bird reminds her of her home in Syria. ©UNHCR/S.Rich

Facts & Figures – Shelter

Shelter is fundamental to survival.

Since 2012, Za’ Atari has evolved from a small collection of tents into an urban settlement of some 80,000 persons. This is reflected in both the needs and aspirations of the camp’s residents and a transition to a more predictable, cost effective and participatory platform for the delivery of assistance. This includes a household level electricity distribution network with a solar power plant set to become operational by the end of the year.

In Za’atari we provide two types of shelter: tents and caravans. Our plan is to eventually ‘caravanise’ the whole camp, so that every family has the security of living in a solid building that they can turn into their home.

In Za’atari we are looking to ‘caravanise’ the camp because this is the shelter solution best suited to the people and the environment.

7,822 tents in camp

24,000 caravans in camp

4.6 – average family size

461,000 – refugees have passed through the camp

Statistics correct as of August 2017

Shelter worldwide

Across the globe UNHCR provides shelter to refugee families in a variety of ways.

Refugee camps

Camps are built in the first instance, in response to emergencies. So the shelters they contain will often be quite basic and utilize the materials that were most readily available at the time. So shelter in camps can be everything from family tents like we have in Za’atari, to basic wooden frames covered with plastic sheeting. In some camps, like in Dollo Ado in Ethiopia, the refugees live in wooden shelters they have built themselves.

Other shelter solutions

When refugees flee to urban areas, it would be impractical to build camps. In these cases UNHCR will help families find accommodation, sometimes with host families, in urban communities. As well as helping them find the best shelter solution for their families’ needs. We also help people negotiate the bureaucracy of their host country and access the services their families may depend on.

Wherever in the world refugees need us, in whatever way, thanks to your support, we can give them the shelter that helps them survive.


The war has destroyed the homes of millions of Syrians. The centre of Aleppo, Syria’s historic second city, has been devastated. Credit: ©UNHCR/J.Andrews


In an emergency tents can be delivered quickly to give refugees shelter from the elements. Credit: ©UNHCR/A.Solumsmoen


When Za’atari opened, in 2011, all the refugees stayed in tents. Credit: ©UNHCR/S.Rich

Jordan. For refugees-winter is a major enemy

We introduced caravans because they provide more protection from the elements and give refugee families a real sense of security and independence. Credit: ©UNHCR/B.Sokol


26 year old Kasim Rashid moved into a caravan in April 2014. "I am a painter in my village in Syria," he said. "I painted it (the caravan) three times until I found the right color. I wanted to paint it so I can forget the situation in Syria.” Credit: ©UNHCR/S.Baldwin

Jordan. Painting homes

The home of Syrian refugee Anas Al Balky, 38, from the village of Lajaa sits on a street in the Za'ateri refugee camp: ©UNHCR/ S. Baldwin