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Syrian Refugees Experience Ramadan in Jordan’s Zaatari Camp | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Confectioners in the Zaatari Syrian refugee camp have been preparing qatayef, a traditional Ramadan sweet, for their fellow residents. (AFP)

Amman, London – In Jordan’s Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, the markets become crowded before the iftar meal that breaks the fast of Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

The camp, which used to be a desert area, now resembles an unorganized city that hosts over 85,000 refugees, who fled the war that is tearing apart their country.

Even though it is hard to spend the fasting month away from their country and relatives, many refugees said they have started to adapt to their new life in Jordan.

Amjad, who left his house in Daraa five years ago, said: “Ramadan in our country was better, because we had houses and electricity. We have adapted to the camp’s conditions and the holy month gets better each year.”

The conditions the refugees have to endure are still difficult. The latest statistics released by the UNHCR in 2016 showed that 93 percent of Syrian refugees in Jordan live under the poverty line, earning $88 per month.

Ziad Rustom, a Syrian refugee and father of six, has been living in the Zaatari camp for five years.

He formed a band for weddings and celebrations in the camp and during Ramadan, he prepares traditional post-iftar juices.

Rustom told Reuters: “Ramadan here and in Syria are the same. Thankfully, we have seen a great turnout. In Syria, I worked in preparing juice for 24 years.”

He explains that he fills over 400 bags of juice per day, and sells each for less than a dollar.

He then distributes the remaining bags to the poor refugees.

Aisha Sayyad, Rustom’s wife believes that it is very hard to adapt to life in the camp.

Jordan currently hosts over 1.4 million refugees. Most of them live in urban areas, while over 100,000 live in camps.

Jordan closed its borders with Syria in May 2013 to prevent more refugees from entering the kingdom because of the insufficiency of water and economic resources.