In a blizzard that hit the region in mid-January, temperatures plummeted in Jordan to -10°C in the capital whereas lower temperatures were recorded in rural areas; this came as a violent blow to the refugees who found themselves facing a harsh blizzard amidst shortage in clothing and proper heating equipment. A number of ActionAid employees organised non-food item (NFI) distributions in Zaatari village, an adjacent town to the infamous Zaatari Camp on the Syrian-Jordanian borders, which hosts upwards of 80,000 Syrian refugees.
The distributions aimed to enable the inhabitants of the village to shield from the blizzard and to be better equipped for the upcoming harsh conditions of the winter. The ActionAid team distributed heaters and gas cylinders to 120 people; in addition to cash assistance. The team afterwards paid a visit to the affected area. The conditions, which were witnessed first-hand by the team, were disastrous.
We met with a woman named Hamida whose tent partially collapsed from the accumulating snow. A mother of four children, Hamida found a house whose inhabitants dedicated their backyard to host her tent. “I don’t know where to go from here, we’ve been living like this for two years,” said Hamida, as she hosted us in her small tent. “I haven’t received much aid, usually when help arrives, people swarm them (the aid agencies), and my children and I go unnoticed,” she added with a tone of frustration and sorrow, “it would be nice to experience warmth”. Hamida and her children fled Homs after bombings in her area, “it was impossible to leave the house, going out to buy food was a great burden,” she added.
In the Zaatari Municipality’s office, Mr. Abdul Kareem Khalidi, Head of Zaatari and Manshiye Municipality, said, “the village has increased in number. We’re approximately 20,000 people now, half of which are Syrian.” Khalidi added “There were instances of hostility between the locals and the Syrian refugees. ActionAid ensured it catered to both sides of the equation at a very professional level, thus, reducing the tension between the refugees and their host communities.”