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Friday, February 23, 2018

A Candle in the Dark: Personal Reflections on the Situation of Syrian Refugees, by Rifat Kassis

Global and local statistics confirm that around 80 percent of Syrian refugees in Jordan live in northern cities, while the remaining 20 percent live in four camps: Za’atari, Marjeeb al-Fahood, Cyber City, and Al-Azraq.

Since the start of the Syrian crisis in March 2011, northern Jordan has exploded with Syrian refugees fleeing the war. The Jordanian residents of this area – already poor themselves – responded with their natural hospitality, willingly hosting their Syrian brothers and sisters. Jordanian and Syrians alike thought that their problems would last for days or weeks at most.

“They are poor people”

On an early visit as Representative of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Jordan, I went to a village called Mafradat in Mafraq. There I met a Jordanian man who was supporting his family and was himself receiving assistance from LWF. Despite his own poverty, he had been voluntarily caring for two Syrian refugee families who lived in an abandoned factory nearby – another generous gesture from the factory owner himself. When I asked the man if he was related to the two families, he said no; he had met them just recently. Noting my raised eyebrows, he added, “They are poor people.” This is a man who lives in a tent with his family on a piece of land offered to him by a nearby plantation owner; the owner had asked him to guard the place for 100 JD a month – in addition to free electricity and water, which he had to transfer from the plant to his tank.

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