Syrian Refugees: Displaced but Dignified
A delegation of the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa is currently in Jordan to explore humanitarian initiatives to ease the plight of refugees, mostly from Syria. Through the cooperation and guidance of partner organisations working on the ground, few much needed projects have been identified.
Among olive groves, with harsh desert wintry blaster battering upon our backs, we make our way up to the veranda of a small room with hardly a door and window panes. An elderly man stumbles along taking support on the shoulder of a young teenager from the neighbourhood to welcome us into all that has now become of his world.
An elderly couple aged 80 and 75 insist we make ourselves comfortable in their little room here in the desert countryside of Mafraq, Jordan, which has meagre provisions around to complement the dilapidated walls and ceiling of this humble abode. They hail from the Syrian city of Hims, the home of the grave of the valliant soldier of Islam, Khalid bin Waleed. The harsh circumstances of war has forced the once owner of 800 olive trees to leave behind all his family and flee to neighbouring Jordan. With age and poor health against them and almost no contact with any family members still residing within the besieged territories of Syria, neighbours and kind gestures are all they rely upon.
When our guide enquires about a heater he brought for the elder a few days before, he retorts that their neighbours had nothing to keep themselves warm so he thought of sharing it with them. On a previous visit, the old man could hardly contain his spur of Arab hospitality and insisted upon his wife to present something before the guests. With great shyness and fumbling she tried to impress upon him that there was nothing in the room to share with the guests who had come to their door. Despite this, the sobbing in their eyes and the prayers they share when taking leave from them in appreciation for the visit, are palpable treasures no money can buy.
Jordan is home to between two and three million Syrian refugees who have fled the war raging in their country for almost six years now. More than a hundred thousand have taken shelter in the Za’tari Camp set up by the government with a similar number staying in the Azraq Camp. These are only a small fraction of those who had to start life afresh after having to flee with all that their hands could carry and their backs could shoulder. Large numbers of Syrian families still live scantily in tents along the Jordan/Syria border having to contend with freezing winters and scorching summers for a few years now.
Close on to 70,000 Syrian refugees are currently entrapped in an area between the Jordanian and Syrian borders. They are neither able to return home nor are they able to enter neighbouring countries.
Whilst still being traumatised by sounds of fighter jets above their heads and most aid organisations being unable to reach them in this somewhat no man’s land, any simple provision goes a long way to few extra days of survival. With the protection of the Royal Jordanian Army an intervention is underway to make food available to them. Last week had seen the success of the delivery of the first consignment.
Due to the lack of essential nutrition and vitamins, a large number of deformities and unique medical conditions are being observed among newborns. To stem the tide of this phenomenon, the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa is considering the provision of much needed health supplements and medications to pregnant and new mothers in the refugee camps.
Contributions towards the humanitarian projects of the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa can be made by direct deposit into:
Account Name: Jamiatul Ulama South Africa Relief
Bank: Nedbank, Fordsburg
Account Number: 1953 285 937
Branch Code: 195305
For more information contact +27 11 373 8000.
Jamiatul Ulama South Africa Relief Team
Mafraq and Amman, Jordan
12 February 2017