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The Daily Needs of Millions in Refugee Camps

For those of us who haven’t seen a refugee camp in person, it’s hard to imagine the reality of what people who live there experience. Not all camps are created equally. Turkey and Jordan are prime examples of how refugee camps can differ.

Living in Turkey’s Kilis Refugee Camp

We start off with the Kilis Refugee Camp in Turkey, which was visited by a New York Times reporter back in 2014. On first sight, he thought the camp resembled a prison. No vegetation, high gates bar entry and barbed wire which tops the walls. Police officers and private security guards at the entry. When setting foot inside the camp, he notices something entirely different. Turkish workers were collecting garbage and keeping the streets clean. Other noticeable elements included as many streetlights as you would find in a suburban neighbourhood, a stable water supply, multiple well-crafted playgrounds and containers instead of tents which supplied housing for the refugees. Numerous schools were based in large buildings with spacious hallways and beautiful decoration. Kilis, who won a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, unfortunately, had unwelcoming news on April 19th, 2016: they’re full.

Carol Batchelor, the U.N.H.C.R.’s representative in Turkey, said about these Turkish camps: “Turkey has taken the primary role and they’re very consistent. Any place you have 14,000 people living and living in that proximity, there are challenges. But these problems that exist in other camps are much less prevalent there.

“Camps are places where it’s quite straightforward to provide services for people,” according to Anita Fabos, the former director of the Forced Migration and Refugee Studies program at the American University in Cairo. “The U.N. and humanitarian agencies are so good at providing resources.” Every day, the World Food Programme alone at the time operated an average of 5,000 trucks, 50 aircraft and 30 ships, as well as trains, river barges, mules, yaks, camels and donkeys.

Situations seem to differ between refugee camps. At the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, which hosts around 80,000 Syrians who have been forced to flee the war in Syria, the infrastructure presents difficulties. The streets aren’t paved. Streetlights aren’t as frequent as in Kilis and people are campaigning for a permanent water and sewage system. Mercy Corps supports Syrian refugees in Jordan by offering supplies for many refugees who don’t have any funds for even the most basic necessities such as food, water, and hygiene items like soap, toothpaste and razors. On 14th February 2016, the daily water allowance per person in Za’atari was just 35 liters compared to a supply of at least 80 liters a day necessary to meet a person's basic needs.

Pregnancy regularly occurs in refugee camps like Za’atari. That’s why they make sure parents have newborn supplies such as bottles, blankets, diapers, formula e.t.c. Tools which help to care for the new addition to their family. Other children don’t stop growing, either. There is a constant need for clothing and educational tools in refugee communities, especially for quickly growing youngsters.

Luckily, access to jobs is improving for Syrian refugees in Jordan, according to the UN Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which said that recent government measures have led to the legal employment of more than 80,000 Syrian workers.