Baby Jamana is fast asleep on a United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) grey blanket and sleeping mat. At just six weeks old, she looks relaxed and content, even in the stifling heat of her home, a UNHCR tent in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan.
Jamana is just six weeks old and was born a refugee from Syria.
“I never imagined my daughter would be born here, in a camp,” says her young mother, 23 year old Zahur. “I never imagined any of us would be refugees.”
It was August 2012 when Zahur and her husband made the decision that she should leave with the children. Their home town Tafez, in the province of Deraa, has been at the centre of the demonstrations and subsequent armed resistance and has been heavily bombed.
With Zahur carrying one year old Aya, and the older girls Remil (five) and Nisreen (four) holding hands, the little family slowly made their way through a dark valley to the border with Jordan. With the little girls stumbling frequently on rocks in the dark, the walk took more than three hours but eventually they reached the safety of the Jordanian border.
“We fled our village in the middle of the night – I was just over one month pregnant – and it was the most difficult journey I have ever had to make,” says Zahur
"We had the most beautiful country,” says Zahur. “We had a beautiful home and that is all gone now. There is no reason why we would have left, but we have nothing there now. Nothing is left standing."
Now in the Za’atari Refugee Camp, Zahur shares two tents and kit-set shed with her in-laws, a sister-in-law and all of the children. Twelve people in total sleep in the small UNHCR supplied family tents and rely on monthly UNHCR aid to survive.
“We followed Zahur and the children about a month after they left Tafez,” explains Husamael, Zahur’s father-in-law. “Tafez had a large population before the war – around 50,000 people – but now half the population has been forced to leave and the majority of homes are gone.”
“I was a farmer and I grew cucumbers and tomatoes. We had a huge home, two floors, many bedrooms but it is all gone. The security forces burnt it to the ground. We had to leave; we didn’t even get any spare clothes.”
Zahur and family know that until the civil war ends and safety is improved in their country, their life is in the camp, where schooling is available for the older children and they can receive medical care for Zahur and baby Jamana.
"I don't want this – I want to go back to my own country, our beautiful country and return for good to Syria but well.... we can’t."
Zahur’s attention is caught by a burst of gunfire from the small television that plays rolling coverage of the war in Syria. With a sigh at the all too familiar sound, she carefully picks up Jamana and takes her quietly off to the UNHCR tent to be fed.