Syrian refugees set up market stalls in Zaatari camp

Market stalls and shops are popping up in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, giving some Syrian refugees there a feeling of normality. (Reuters)

Jordan’s Zaatari camp, home to thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing an ongoing bloody crisis in their homeland, is a hive of activity.

Almost two years into the Syrian conflict, the refugees of Zaartari are making the most of their circumstance.

Along the main road of the camp, shops and market stalls are making an appearance, with people buying a variety of goods from meat to bottled water.

Metal structures are being erected in the camp, once completed they’ll serve as shops.

Syrian refugee Mohamed Mahameed is building his own vegetable store. The structure is being made out of planks of wood and sheets of zinc.

“Everything we use we have to buy, you might find someone who received some items from the U.N., and they then sell these things to us,” said Mahameed.

Mahameed said that after some research, he decided that this was the best way to earn a living.

“We had a look then asked around and the guys told us this will be a good job, they said that it is possible to make a living out of this,” he said.

According to the UNHCR, the Zaatari camp hosts approximately 70, 000 refugees. Camp officials are struggling to keep up with the needs of the ever-expanding population.

For refugee and vegetable stall owner Abu Obeidah, the reason for their current circumstance begins and ends with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“All of this is because of Bashar al Assad, he’s made us homeless, led us to this country and we don’t know when it will end,” he said.

“We depend on God, and survive day by day and anyone who says otherwise is not being truthful. We live day by day, if we work today, we live; if we don’t work, hunger will kill us,” he added.

A variety of products can be purchased along the camps main road. Baby nappies labeled ‘Bashar’ and ‘Maher’ are sold next to boxed drinking glasses and pots and pans.

Abu Haidar has opened a Shawarma shop in order to provide a service and earn an income.

“I opened the shop because there is nothing to eat or drink, this will give people food and provide me with an income which my family and I can live on,” he said.

Haidar relies on getting his produce from Jordan, but says it isn’t always easy as he often ends up paying double for the meat,

“From Jordan, but they give us a very hard time before allowing us to bring them into the camp, everything is difficult. For example, a kilo of chicken outside costs 2 [Jordanian Dinars], they sell it to us for 4 and 5 [Jordanian Dinars], all the supplies are very expensive,” said Haidar.

Jordan maintains an open border policy with Syria, and has taken in over 250,000 refugees since the start of the conflict almost two years ago.

Since the conflict began, more than 787,000 Syrians have registered as refugees or are awaiting processing in the region, mainly in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 05 March 2013 KSA 10:03 - GMT 07:03
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