Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan, September 2013
Azuz just laughed when I stepped into the smoky lobby of a hostel in Amman, Jordan. He made a comment about some actor I supposingly looked similar to. I had to join his laughter. Azuz was that kind of guy you like right from the beginning without knowing why.
He jumped in two large steps to the reception area, handed me a piece of paper to fill in my details. I wrote in the line of nationality “German”, he saw that and talked away. “Hallo, wie gehts? Wo kommst du her?” Berlin, Munich, he talked alot. But no, he has never been to Germany before. He taught that himself. He then conversed with a guy from Peru in Spanish, made a comment to an Italian girl in Italian and answered his phone in Arabic. I expected him in a moment to tell a joke in Suaheli.
Instead he told his story: He came to Jordan seven months ago with 5 Dinar, equalling maybe 8 Dollars, in his pockets. He was a student from Daraa in Syria, the town where the uprising began with a couple of Graffitis on the wall. He joined the first demonstrations. It was awesome, he says, we were strong and we had no fear. But the situation worsened.
Arriving in Amman he asked the supermarkets to give him a job. They gave him one and finally he got the offer to work in an environmental project that does fish research. He happily agreed and works there ever since. He loves that job alot. He did not even bother to attend a job interview with the refugee organisation of the UN he had been invited to.
And that might be a small, good sign. Because at home, in Daraa, he was studying veterinary medicine. His old life continues – at least a little bit.
- NYT gives an overview of the refugee crisis in the countries bordering Syria. A UN worker is quoted: “This is the type of crisis that humanitarian agencies at some point cannot handle any more.”
All the players in the Middle East do [moral double bookkeeping]. They keep one set of moral books, which proclaim how righteous they are, to show the outside world, and one set of moral books, which proclaim how ruthless they are, to show each other.
Thomas Friedman, “From Beirut to Jerusalem”, Anchor Books 1990, p. 165