In Syria, Abdel al Razaq had been a farmer. He owned two hectares of land in the south of the Deraa border region. A year and a half ago, he fled Syria after bombs fell on his house and land. One of his daughters was killed in this incident and the other lost both her legs. Now, april 2014 Abdel lives with his family and 80,000 other refugees at Al Za’atari in Jordan, the biggest refugee camp in the Middle East. Abdel has created an improvised vegetable garden next to his tent. Although the soil is unsuitable for agriculture, he does his best. He grows coriander, onions and parsley. For Abdel, seeing plants grow in the desert is a welcome distraction and a consolation in the hard realities of the camp.
In the summer of 2011 around 3.000 people ware stayed in Shousha refugee camp, on the Tunisian Libyan boarder. They waited for a decision by the UNHCR on their refugee status For this group, mainly from Sudan/Darfur, Somalia and Eritrea it is not possible to go home, due to the lack of safety in their homeland.
Some of these people arrived at the camp in March 2011 and would have their first intake interview about their refugee status in December. In the summer temperatures can go up to 48 C. At this moment (November 2012), the camp is still there and people are still waiting to be accepted as a refugee in a safe country.
I was surprised to see that people make an effort to be a little self supporting by growing their own food in these desert gardens.