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Jaramana Refugee Camp

by on Mar.03, 2009, under everything

I’ve been living in a small health clinic on the outskirts of Damascus in a neighborhood called Jaramana.  Its a poor, dirty, muddy, unplanned neighborhood full of un-permitted, uninsulated and haphazard cinderblock construction.  Its also nearly all Iraqi refugees and where about 80% of the Assyrian Iraqi refugees in Damascus live.  The neighborhood, at first glance, looks like a typical second world slum.

But after a week and half here, I’ve started to feel a bit like a refugee.  The overwhelming feelings of paranoia, fear, and uncertainty are contagious.  Out in public, nobody smiles and everybody avoids eye contact.  When I do make eye contact, people scowl, look at me suspiciously, or turn away.  And I’ve started to do the same. You’re always on edge, even though there isn’t much physical crime. We’re all afraid of something, but aren’t sure what.  And I’ve begin to understand how insidious living in a repressive dictatorship can be.  All of the refugees here have grown up under Saddam and lived through his worst and apply those life lessons to survival in this country.

Cuba was not like this.  Cubans were certainly afraid and paranoid and careful, but they were still kind and friendly and hopeful for change.

Welcome to Jaramana

Welcome to Jaramana

Delivering water (I think).  The unplanned nature of this district has led poor water quality, because it is apparently pumped from shallow wells. Nobody here drinks tap water.

Delivering water (I think). The unplanned nature of this district has led poor water quality, because it is apparently pumped from shallow wells. Nobody here drinks tap water.

Out for a meander along the alleys and sidestreets.

Out for a meander along the alleys and sidestreets.

A little scooter on its last legs, like everything else here.

A little scooter on its last legs, like everything else here.

The alley where I live

The alley where I live

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    7 Comments for this entry

    • Adessa

      Anobel, my dad received the url to your blog from you’re dad and told me about the work you’re doing. I just want to say great job and it’s good to know that there are people out there who want to make a difference(even better if they’re Assyrian). Also, your pictures are AMAZING especially in this entry so keep up the good work and best of luck.

    • Erlend Paasche

      Dear Ano,

      I am a European in my twenties who recently lived in Jaramana for some months. I just read this entry with interest, and would like to get in touch with you somehow, would it be possible?

      Best wishes,
      Alan

    • tarif

      Hi,I’m from jaramanah I born and lived there till 2006,I agree totally with your discription about the mess . well people,who lives under oppression regime they strat mimicking it’s image and practices,of paranoia and violance. also the huge change from outskirted town to a city full of refugees and strangers made people more paranoic and aggresive…by the way the people there they called it “fallujah” the famous iraqi city.

      note: the first picture is not water , its heating fuel.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/9985403@N05/

      that’s my link on flickr pictures of jaramanah plaistinian refugee camp and prats of damascus.

    • Abby

      Hi! I, along with 5 of my classmates, have formed a team for one of our senior level university classes and are researching and preparing to go to another country to live and work there. My team chose to go to Jaramana. I was googling stuff and happened across your blog. I was wondering if it would be at all possible for me to ask you a few questions about the camp, the health clinic, etc… We would absolutely love to hear some firsthand information about the camp and not simply have to rely on google.
      I love your pictures, by the way. So beautiful. :)

    • claim insurance

      Good entry. I appreciate you for posting it. Keep up the fine blogging.

    • paynilan

      ” Cubans were certainly afraid and paranoid and careful, but they were still kind and friendly and hopeful for change.”
      You can out more?

    • Vfrankz

      Sadly, there seems to be a missing link between the Palestinians, Syrians and the leadership. People think that the notice letter is but a document for a substitute house. There is a section of those whose houses were demolished in 1985, who have received substitute housing in 2004. They considered the value of the demolished house to be the first instalment for the substitute house, and leave the family to pay for the rest of the instalments itself. There are other families who have received nothing”.

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