The Mrajeeb Al Fhood in Jordan, built by the United Arab Emirates for Syrian refugees, is considered model of good design. A European parliamentary delegation recently visited, praising the camp's structure. Yet it feared that the camp may not be able to cope with rapidly increasing numbers, with the population there set to double.
Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugees camp, roughly 20 km from Zarqa in Jordan, was established in April 2013 to house Syrian refugees. Funds of around $800 million (682 million euros) were provided by the United Arab Emirates. A delegation of members of the European Parliament belonging to the "EU-UAE Parliamentary Friendship Group" recently visited the camp.
1,700 containers and a theatre keep residents active
The camp was founded after the Zaatari reached capacity. It has 1,700 containers (each with beds and toilet facilities and an outside shower) and is a kind of small city, with a computer room, schools (including one in English) and a theatre that is also used for weddings.
The refugees have plenty to do. The men can get invloved in carpentry and maintenance work and the women can take up sewing as well the traditional roles such as caring for their families and preparing food. Outside the camp there is a hospital and medical centre, with guards providing security.
"The camp has been structured with a philosophy and a perspective in mind," says Isabella De Monte, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and one of the eight delegation members. "It is an example of how to build a refugee camp, with an avantgarde set-up. It is not a place to park lots of people and nothing else. And great importance has been given to security."
However, the camp's future is uncertain, with the Jordanian authorities fearing that the number of Syrian refugees could double over the next six months.
The camp currently hosts 4,000 people. Priority is given to widows with children, single women, the elderly and the disabled, as well as large families. De Monte speaks of a "shocking experience in positive terms: I saw children smiling. When you visit realities of this kind you expect to find desperation dictated by emigration, instead, there we found something different."