Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan
An estimated 4 million refugees have fled Syria since the start of the conflict in 2011. The Zaatari (مخيم الزعتري) refugee camp, a three-square-mile piece of land located in the desolate Jordanian desert, is now a semi-permanent home for tens of thousands of refugees, most originating in Syria’s Southwest.
The camp is located 10 km east of Mafraq and first opened on 28th July 2012. It is now the 4th largest ‘city’ Jordan with over 100,000 inhabitants. Zaatari, which was initially designed to host a maximum of 60,000 inhabitants.
The camp is made up of 30,000 shelters and administration buildings, 3 hospitals, 3 schools, and a market-like structure of 3,000 makeshift shops on the so-called ‘Champs Elysees’, selling a wide range of food, household goods, and clothes.
Just over half of inhabitants are under the age of 18, so schooling is difficult. Although there are several schools on the campsite, the regular attendance of classes is very low. Leadership in the camp is a major issue with the presence of gang leaders, causing concerns for the UNHCR who have been encouraging traditional Syrian leaders (who were previously involved in their communities) to come forward as leaders.
Even within this small eco-system, socio-economic inequalities have been observed, with a widening gap between those whose economic situation improved by the renewed economic market of the camp, and those who are still highly dependent on international aid.
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Like so many towns on the Adriatic, Monopoli's history has been thoroughly influenced by its east-facing position and its fortified sea-front walls and castle tell many a story.
Parking in or around Piazza XX Settembre, location of a colourful street market, head east towards the cathedral. To find it just look upwards and you are sure to see its elegantly conceived bell tower thrusting into the sky. Built in 1693, the tower is over 60 metres high, completely dominating the town below.