"The Zaatari Refugee Camp is twelve kilometers from the Syrian border, and has become the fourth largest city in Jordan. At its peak last year, over 3,000 Syrians refugees were entering the camp every day. This was a biblical level of population movement. Over 400,000 people have lived in the camp at some point in the last two years. UNHCR has responded to their basic needs: sanitation, food, healthcare. But there’s a large gap between survival and livelihood. For lack of a better word, boredom has become a big problem. It’s too dangerous to return to Syria, and there are very limited ways to be productive inside the camp. But the adaptations have been amazing. This is unlike any other refugee camp in the world. The Syrians are coming from a middle class economy, so they are a very skilled population— they aren’t subsistence farmers. They’ve managed to build an economy inside the camp. Most of the tents have been upgraded to houses. The refugees trade with the Jordanians, and bring in supplies from the outside to start their own shops. One man even started a supermarket. It’s still a tough situation. But arriving with nothing, the Syrian refugees have managed to carve out their own dignity inside the camp. They aren’t just taking what is given to them. They’ve created choices for themselves.” 

-Gavin White, UNHCR Jordan External Relations Officer