"We must make every possible effort to provide support to the Syrian children and teachers in the refugee camps in Jordan," said EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen and ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, who visited the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq on 28 October. They met with refugees and officials of the UNHCR and the World Food Program.
The tented camp, established in July of this year, holds over 60,000 refugees, of which 56 per cent are under the age of 18.
UNICEF has opened one school on site, with construction of further schools being planned. Some fifty teachers have been recruited, most of them Syrian refugees. More schools and more teachers are needed, as well as textbooks and school equipment, teacher refugees told van Leeuwen and Burrow.
The influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan has far surpassed initial projections, with 105,000 refugees registered with UNCHR to date. The Jordan authorities estimate that approximately 250,000 refugees will have crossed the border by the end of 2012, of which 155,000 will be hosted in camps and 95,000 in Jordanian cities and towns.
The government of Jordan offers registered refugee children free schooling. However, the country’s school system is unable to live up to that promise. UNICEF is carrying out small scale renovations at 50 public schools across Jordan, in addition to installing prefabricated classrooms, such as in the Zaatari Refugee Camp.
The government of Jordan continues to show tolerance and hospitality to an ever growing refugee and asylum seeker population.
“Jordan is a small middle income country. The international community must therefore increase its support to ensure that the basic social needs of the Syrian refugees, including their children’s education, are being met,” stated van Leeuwen.
In close cooperation with both the recently established Jordan Teachers Association and UNICEF, EI wants to supply the camp schools with text books and school equipment.
Towards this aim, Fred van Leeuwen will submit a proposal to the Cross-Regional Conference for EI affiliates in Arabic-speaking countries, convened next week in Beirut.