Syrian refugee baby 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Amman, Jordan - Fatima’s working hours start when the sun sinks behind Amman’s
western mountains, signaling an end to the day of fasting during the holy month
of Ramadan. It is then, when the noisy traffic of the busy capital is silenced,
and the call to prayer echoes through the streets, that Muslims head to the
mosque and then home for a special meal with family and friends.
also then that this emaciated, green-eyed refugee leaves her mother and sisters
in a shabby apartment and heads to a mosque in the posh part of the capital.
Holding her younger brother by the arm, she patiently waits for the prayers to
end so she can start begging.
“People are more generous during Ramadan,”
the 10 year old refugee told The Media Line, dressed in a torn red blouse and
dirty black trousers, and standing barefoot outside the mosque. Islam mandates
charity for the poor during this month, as well as fasting and increased prayer.
Ramadan commemorates the revelation of the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, to the
In this large mosque made of limestone, well-off
worshipers arrive in expensive cars to pray before heading home to break their
day-long fast. Fatima says her mother and sisters did not want to come begging
“My two big sisters are shy. They do not want to leave home,
but I do not mind. We need money to eat. Nobody is helping us enough,” said the
young refugee, who managed to collect $14 before departing downhill with her
younger brother through the dark allies of the capital.
Jordan says it is
facing an uphill battle to provide for the more than half a million Syrian
refugees that have fled the civil war in Syria. The government has appealed for
more aid from the international community, but officials say the donations are
still far less than they are spending on the refugees.
kingdom set up three refugee camps with the help of wealthy Gulf countries such
as Qatar and some European donors. The largest camp, Al- Zaatari, near the
Syrian border, houses nearly 150,000 refugees in large white tents. Refugees
living in camps receive food rations, but others who live in the cities are
struggling to adapt to life in Jordan. Ahmed Abel Rahman, a Syrian activist who
provides aid to families outside the refugee camps, said organizations are
finding it harder to needed aid.
“Restaurants are charging more for
Ramadan meals and local authorities prevent us from entering the camp to provide
aid directly to refugees,” Abel Rahman told the Media Line
northern city of Ramtha, near the Syrian border, the Ahel Il-Ketab Wal Suna, an
Islamic charity organization, has erected tents and provided food and drink for
Syrian refugees to break their fast. But organizers admit many Syrians are
embarrassed to come to the Ramadan tents, not wanting to publicly admit their
“Last year, we had to close many tents because nobody wanted to
come. Syrians, although needy, feel humiliated to publicly ask for food. Single
men and some Arab expatriates visited our tents to eat,” Mohammad Zubi, of the
charity said. “We hope this year more people will visit our tents.”
said aid organizations would like to distribute food to families at home, but
logistics and a lack of resources makes it very difficult.
make home delivery to each and every family in Ramtha. There are thousands and
our resources are limited,” Zubi told the Media Line.
Emotions run high
among refugees during the holy month, as they recall past Ramadan’s back home
when the table was full of food and the extended family.
“We used to have
all my brothers and sisters surrounding the table and food in abundance. Now, my
family is scattered and the food we get is not enough to feed us,” Abu Abdel
Rahman, an injured rebel from Deraa and a father of six, who currently lives in
Ramtha told The Media line
. “Now the feeling of dependency on aid groups is
worse than death.” He also accused aid groups and the Jordanian government of
taking advantage of the refugee’s difficult situation to make
“Where does all the money that comes for refugees go? We do not
see anything,” he told the Media Line
His wife managed to cook a meager
meal of rice and vegetables to break the fast. But Abu Abdel Rahman could not
hide his feelings and anger.
“We have not seen meat or chicken for weeks.
My children are becoming sick due to lack of proper food,” he
Many of the refugees here say that by next year they hope to be
back home in Syria, and reunited with their extended families.