The National reported on April 6 that a new refugee camp for Syrian refugees financed by the United Arab Emirates will be opening in Jordan this week . The camp has the potential to influence how the international communities build and manage refugee camps, if it is successful.
The Emirati-Jordanian camp will be built in the Meraijeb Al Fahoud area to help accommodate the overwhelming influx of refugees crossing the border daily, overcrowding the current Zaatari camp….
The UAE also promised that homes would be in caravans rather than tents to keep families warm.
This development is exciting for many obvious reasons, but also because this will be a small but very well-built (and hopefully well-managed) camp.
Andrew Harper, a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has visited the site.
“It’s a five-star refugee camp,” he said yesterday. “It has everything a refugee would want and more. We look forward to opening it.”
Considering the horrid fire at a Bhutamese refugee camp in Thailand a few weeks ago, may be this camp will be reflected by future and maybe even current refugee camps. Or it may be a favoritism to a hurting group of people who happen to be featured in the news more than other refugee groups. Either way, it is still good news. At least for now.
The opening of the camp came in the same week that the UN stated resources were being over-whelmed by Syrian refugees. Jordan did not originally approve of the camp, but Jordan has long history of welcoming asylum-seekers and is already a center for refugee populations in the Middle East. Jordan and other countries around Syria are being over-whelmed with refugees.
About Dh12 million has been spent on the camp. Its management will be separate from the team running Zaatari.
Running the site will cost the Red Crescent Dh225m a year. It is still unknown how the camp plans to operate.
“We are talking to the UAE to determine the criteria,” Mr Harper said. “We just want people moved.”
When a country cannot hold anymore refugees, it becomes more and more likely that the refugee population will face many more hard ships economically and from the government of the country they have found refuge in.
This camp is a sign of what a refugee camp, and the process of moving and resettling refugees, could become. A better, more stream-lined process could move refugees out of over-burdened countries like Syria and then help refugees return to their homeland if that becomes a possibility they want to consider once their home-nation becomes a stable place.
It also shows what a good refugee camp itself can look like. It could be a place where a single fire does not sweep through most of a camp, it reflects a neighborhood more than a prison and asylum-seekers are not made to fell less than human.
If the world was perfect, there would be no refugees. Sadly, the world is not perfect. If nations of the world were compationate and pragmatic, there would be a funtioning system in place to protect, board and move refugees along with finncing the endeavor. But this is not our world either.
Earlier this year the UAE pledged an additional Dh1.1 billion at the International Donors Conference for Syria held in Kuwait, where it was the joint-largest donation along with offers from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
While the UAE would be entirely responsible as to how the money would be used, Mr Harper said involving the UN would benefit all parties involved.
“We are still expecting some [funding] from the UAE,” he said.
But others have been slow to make good on their pledges, he added.