- Title: Syrians speak of Ramadan in Zaatari refugee camp
- Date: 4th June 2017
- Summary: MAFRAQ, JORDAN (JUNE 1, 2017) (REUTERS) CARAVANS / STREET IN THE ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP PEOPLE RIDING BIKES / WALKING THROUGH A STREET IN THE CAMP PEOPLE GATHERED NEAR A KATAYEF (RAMADAN PANCAKE-LIKE DESSERT) STALL VARIOUS OF A MAN POURING BATTER ONTO A HOT STOVE PEOPLE WALKING OR RIDING THEIR BIKES THROUGH A MARKET STREET IN THE CAMP VARIOUS OF ROTISSERIE CHICKEN FRUIT AND VEGETABLE STALL SYRIAN MAN, AMJAD, STANDING AT THE STALL CRATE OF TOMATOES (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN REFUGEE, AMJAD, SAYING: "Ramadan atmosphere in our city is much better than it is here. There we had houses, electricity, everything. Here there is nothing, we are living in [caravans]. But thank God, we have an acceptable life. We adapted to the situation here, we are used to it. Each Ramadan that passes is better than the previous one." SYRIAN REFUGEE, ZIAD RUSTOM (ABU RUSTOM), PREPARING TRADITIONAL RAMADAN DRINK VARIOUS OF RUSTOM POURING THE DRINK OVER THE BAG OF HERBS
- Embargoed: 18th June 2017 10:41
- Keywords: refugee daily life Syrians Ramadan Zaatari
- Location: MAFRAQ, JORDAN
- City: MAFRAQ, JORDAN
- Country: Jordan
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0016JV3TQT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:The markets of the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan are bustling with shoppers stocking up on drinks and desserts ahead of their Ramadan iftar meals.
The camp, once an empty desert, is now a bustling slum city, home to around 85,000 Syrian refugees who fled their war-torn country.
Shops and stalls are offering Ramadan specialities such as Katayef - a pancake like pastry which is stuffed with cheese or nuts.
Despite the difficulties of spending the holy month away from their homes and loved ones, many refugees say they've found a new norm in the camp.
"Ramadan atmosphere in our city is much better than it is here. There we had houses, electricity, everything. Here there is nothing, we are living in [caravans]. But thank God, we have an acceptable life. We adapted to the situation here, we are used to it. Each Ramadan that passes is better than the previous one," said Amjad, who fled from Deraa five years ago.
But living conditions for refugees remain tough. According to figures released by the UN refugee agency last year, 93 percent of Syrians in Jordan live below the national poverty line of US$88 per person per month.
Ziad Rustom, a father of six who has been living in the camp for five years, does whatever he can to get by.
He founded a folklore troupe that routinely performs at weddings and other occasions in the camp.
During Ramadan, he makes brightly coloured traditional juices that are popular during the holy month.
Rustom lays out herbs such as liquorice and carob in the sun to dry, then places them in a cloth and continuously pours water over the cloth until the water changes colour.
"We are recreating the Syrian Ramadan atmosphere here. Thank God, many people are buying [juice] from us. In Syria, for 24 years, I made juice and now I am continuing to do this work. After Iftar, I go around with the large jug and during fasting, I [sell] bags of juice," he said.
Rustom says he makes around 400 bags of juice a day, selling each for less than a dollar. Whatever he doesn't sell, he gives away to those who cannot afford to pay for the drinks.
But for Rustom's wife, Aisha, adjusting to life in the camp is far from easy.
"Ramadan in Syria is different, you have your brother, your family, your mother. You have to visit them, you invite them over, they invite you. Here there's no one. If you're lucky and you have a relative or friend you met when you first came here, then you invite them over. The rest of our neighbours are just acquaintances. It's not like Syria," she said.
Jordan currently hosts over 1.4 million refugees, with most of them living in urban areas and around 100,000 Syrians in camps.
Jordan sealed its 370-km. (230-mile) border with Syria in May 2013, limiting the number of refugees entering the country, due to a strain on the country's limited water resources and economy.
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